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HomeDifferences between IUD and IUS

The differences between IUD and IUS

There can be some confusion between the IUD and IUS contraception methods. Although similar in name, they are a bit different in how they work. IUD stands for intrauterine device, with IUS standing for intrauterine system.

Understanding the IUS and IUD

Both forms of contraception are similar in size and shape. These T-shaped devices have the same goal; to prevent unwanted pregnancy; however, they differ largely in the way in which they prevent pregnancy.

To prevent pregnancy:

  • The IUS releases the hormone progestogen
  • The IUD releases copper that creates a reaction toxic to sperm and eggs

The intrauterine device (IUD)

The IUD is also known as ‘the coil’ and is classed as a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC). The IUD is inserted into the uterus and can remain until it needs to be replaced or you decide to fall pregnant.

Facts about IUDs:

  • Are made from plastic and copper
  • The device is T-shaped and fits into the palm of your hand
  • They can last anywhere between 5-10 years
  • IUDs work immediately
  • They can be inserted at any point in the menstrual cycle, right after giving birth or an abortion
  • The device will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

The intrauterine system (IUS)

The IUS is also classed as a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) which, much like the IUD, is inserted into the uterus. It can remain there until replacement or when you want it removed.

Facts about the IUS:

  • T-shaped and able to fit into the palm of your hand
  • Made from plastic and releases progestogen
  • It will last for 3-5 years
  • Works immediately if inserted during your period or, if at another time in your cycle, is effective after 7 days.
  • They can be inserted at any point in the menstrual cycle, right after giving birth or an abortion
  • Will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

How does the IUD/IUS prevent pregnancy?

While both devices are similar, they work in slightly different ways:

  • The IUD, which is made of copper, works as a spermicide releasing metal to prevent sperm from surviving in the womb. This can also prevent the implanting of fertilised eggs in the womb as well
  • The IUS releases a hormone called progestogen. This will thicken the cervix mucus and womb fluid to prevent pregnancy.

The advantages of the IUD/IUS

  • The longevity of the devices means they are a low maintenance form of contraception – as opposed to taking a pill every day; the IUD can last up to 10 years, with the IUS lasting up to five
  • Safe for use when breastfeeding
  • Removable any time you wish with fertility returning to normal
  • Falling ill or taking medication does not compromise the effectiveness of the IUD/IUS
  • Good options if you are sensitive to oestrogen
  • Reduced pain and discomfort of your period, including cramps, length and heavy flow*

*Some women may find that the IUS stops periods entirely.

The disadvantages of the IUD/IUS

  • These devices do not offer protection from sexually transmitted infections
  • You may experience some spotting and bleeding; however, this should stop after a few months
  • The devices can, at first, make periods longer, heavier, and more painful – something that should also improve after a few months
  • Side effects may include headaches, acne and breast tenderness which should reduce over time
  • A very uncommon side effect of the IUS can be cysts on the ovaries, which will disappear without treatment

Fitting an IUD/IUS

Our doctors are experts in contraception care and can fit, replace or remove an IUD/IUS. We will complete an assessment as part of your service to ensure these methods are clinically suitable for you.

Some important points to remember:

  • Our team can fit either type of device at any point in your menstrual cycle
  • The IUD offers immediate protection, as will the IUS if fitted during your menstrual period (other methods will be required for the first seven days if fitted outside of this)
  • The procedure takes approximately 20 minutes

Post-procedure considerations

Cramping post-procedure is normal and will vary in duration depending on the individual. Slight bleeding may also be expected.

If you experience any of the following, contact our team immediately:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • High temperatures / fever
  • An odour from your discharge

Ensuring the device remains in place

Both devices have threads that hang similar to a tampon inside the vagina. These are unnoticeable, but it is important to understand that an IUD/IUS that has moved creates the risk of falling pregnant.

To ensure this is not the case, clients should be aware of the following:

  • Our team will show you how to check the IUD/IUS for the correct positioning after it is first fitted to ensure the correct positioning
  • Always check for the correct positioning periodically in the first month, then twice a month from then on
  • The thread(s) will hang near the opening of the vagina
  • You can sit or squat in a comfortable position and use your index or middle finger to locate your cervix
  • Once located, you should be able to feel the strings of the device
  • If you feel something hard, it is likely the end of the device, meaning it has moved.
  • If you suspect the device has moved, you can book an appointment with our team or contact our aftercare hotline.

Where can I have an IUD/IUS fitted?

The expert team at MSI Australia can fit your chosen device for you while providing all the necessary information to ensure this is the right contraception option. The IUD and IUS must be fitted and removed by a medical professional.

Book an appointment with MSI Australia today to see if the IUD or IUS is right for you.