Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD)
What Is An IUCD*?
An Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) is a device which is inserted into the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy. There are many types of IUCDs and they come in different shapes and sizes. Commonly used types are IUCDs containing copper.
*IUCD is also commonly known as “IUD”.
How Does An IUCD Prevent Pregnancy?
The IUCD works by changing the uterine lining and preventing the fertilised egg from getting attached to the wall of the womb, therefore preventing implantation.
How Is The IUCD Fitted?
Your doctor will perform a vaginal examination to determine the size of your uterus and the correct size of IUCD to use. The IUCD will then be inserted using an introducer and the procedure usually takes about 5 minutes.
When Should The IUCD Be Fitted?
The IUCD is best inserted towards the end of menstrual flow because it is at this time that you are unlikely to be pregnant, and the neck of the womb, being softer and slightly open, makes insertion easier. An IUCD can also be inserted during the termination of pregnancy procedure.
Is The IUCD Harmful To The Body?
No. The IUCD is as safe as any other contraceptive method and it does not cause cancer.
What Are The Advantages Of The IUCD?
- It is 98% effective in preventing pregnancy.
- It requires only one insertion for prolonged protection
- It can remain in the uterus for 3 - 5 years depending on its effectiveness, after which, a change of IUCD may be necessary.
- It is readily reversible and there is no reduction in fertility after the IUCD is removed.
- It does not interfere with sexual relations and it fact, may improve marital relations because there is no fear of an unwanted pregnancy. During sexual intercourse, you and your partner should not be able to feel either the IUCD or the fine thread that is attached to the IUCD.
What Are The Risks With IUCD?
Some women may experience abdominal cramps, heavier periods and vaginal discharge after IUCD insertion. However, these symptoms usually disappear after 2 - 3 months. IUCD insertion also carries with it possible complications such as:
- Occasionally an IUCD may be partially or completely pushed out of the uterus, exposing the woman to unplanned pregnancy.
- 50% of all expulsions take place in the first 3 months.
- It is advisable to feel for the thread after the period each month to ensure that the IUCD is still in place. If the thread is missing or the IUCD migrated into the uterine cavity or abdominal cavity, further investigations may be required to locate the IUCD. A surgical procedure may be required to remove the IUCD.
- Ectopic pregnancy: If pregnancies arise, they occur more commonly in the fallopian tubes.
- Uterine perforation: Occurs in 1 out of 1,000 insertions.
- Pelvic infection: There is a slightly increased risk of infection occurring in the first 3 weeks after insertion.
- Pregnancy with IUCD in place: There is a higher risk of miscarriage if the IUCD is left in place. This risk may be reduced if the IUCD is removed as soon as possible.
Are Check-ups Necessry After The IUCD Has Been Inserted?
Yes. It is important that you see your doctor for regular check-ups after the IUCD has been inserted. Your doctor will advise you on the frequency.