Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUCDs) - FAQs

FAQs about Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)



Can the IUD travel from the woman's uterus to other parts of her body, such as her heart or her brain?

The IUD never travels to the heart, brain, or any other part of the body outside the abdomen. The IUD normally stays within the uterus like a seed within a shell. Rarely, the IUD may come through (perforate) the wall of the uterus into the abdominal cavity.

Will the IUD prevent a woman from having babies after it is removed?

Generally, a woman can become pregnant after her IUD is removed, the same as discontinuing other forms of contraception. In rare situations, a woman could develop an infection when using the IUD. This happens if bacteria get into the uterus when the IUD is inserted. Most infections develop within three weeks of having the IUD inserted. If the infection is not treated, it can affect a woman's ability to become pregnant in the future.

Can a woman who has never had a baby use an IUD?

Yes, as long as she does not have an STI and is not at-risk of acquiring one. The IUD is not the best method for a woman who has not had a baby and wants a baby in the future. Also, the uterus of a woman who has not had children is sometimes too small for an IUD.

Can a woman get an IUD just after she has a baby?

Yes, if the person who inserts her IUD has been properly trained. The IUD can be inserted after a vaginal delivery or through the abdominal incision after a cesarean section (surgical delivery).

Can a woman get an IUD just after abortion or miscarriage?

Yes. An IUD can be inserted after an abortion or miscarriage unless she has a pelvic infection. Insertion following miscarriage after 16 weeks' gestation requires special training.

Must an IUD be inserted only during a woman's menstrual period?

No. An IUD can be inserted at any time during her menstrual cycle if it is reasonably sure that the woman is not pregnant. During her period may be a good time because she is not likely to be pregnant, and insertion may be easier for some women. It is not as easy to see signs of infection during menstruation, however. Some providers like to insert the IUD midway through the menstrual cycle because the mouth of the cervix is a little wider then.

Should antibiotics be given before IUD insertion to prevent infection?

Not necessarily. When IUD insertion is done correctly with well-screened clients, there is little risk of infection for healthy women, and antibiotics are not necessary for IUD insertion. In any case, most recent research suggests that antibiotics do not significantly reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Can a woman be too young or too old to use an IUD?

No. There is no minimum or maximum age, so long as the woman is not at risk for a sexually transmitted disease and is properly counseled about the advantages and disadvantages of IUDs. An IUD should be removed from the woman after menopause at least one year after her last menstrual period.


Can a woman get her IUD on the same day that she has her initial counseling?

Yes. If it is reasonably certain that she is not pregnant and has no infections, there is no medical reason for a separate visit. It may be inconvenient for a woman to come back again. Also, she may become pregnant before she returns to have an IUD inserted.

Can a woman with diabetes use an IUD?

Yes. IUDs are safe for women with diabetes. Women with diabetes are at greater risk of many infections; however, they should see a nurse or doctor if they notice possible signs of sexually transmitted disease or other infection, particularly just after IUD insertion.

Should a woman have a "rest period" after using her IUD for several years or after the IUD reaches its recommended time for removal?

No. This is not necessary and it may be harmful. There is less risk of pelvic infection in replacing an IUD at one time than in 2 separate procedures. Also, a woman can become pregnant before her new IUD is inserted.

When does a copper IUD need to be replaced?

The latest models of copper-bearing lUDs are effective for many years. The TCu-380A has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for 10 years of use. (It probably can prevent pregnancy even longer.)

Will the IUD cause discomfort to a woman's partner during sex?

Generally, no. Sometimes a man can feel the strings. If this bothers him, cutting the strings shorter should solve the problem. The woman should be told beforehand, however, that this will mean she will not be able to feel the strings to check her IUD, and removing her IUD may be more difficult. A man may feel discomfort during sex if the IUD has started to come out through the cervix. If a woman suspects this, she should see a doctor or nurse immediately.

Updated 19 April 2016