Getting an Intra Uterine Device (IUD) is a highly effective contraception choice. Before your appointment to have your IUD put in (inserted), please read the following information to make sure the procedure can go ahead. You can also watch our video about IUDs.
WHEN TO GET YOUR IUD PUT IN
An IUD may be put in at any time you choose, as long as you're not pregnant or at risk of being pregnant. Some good times to get it put in:
- While you have your period or just after.
- Four weeks after your baby is born.
- At the time of a surgical abortion.
- As emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex (copper IUD).
- If you have an infection, you should get it treated before you get an IUD put in.
Getting YOUR IUD for the first time
There must be no risk of pregnancy at the time of your appointment.
This means that for one month before your appointment you need to stop having sex (penis in vagina sex) or ensure you’re using effective contraception each time you have sex during the month before your appointment.
We recommend the pill or condoms. If you need a script, contact your local Family Planning clinic.
If you’ve had unprotected sex and there’s any chance of pregnancy before your appointment, your appointment may have to be cancelled, rescheduled, or changed to another contraception appointment type. You’ll be responsible for any fees incurred because of this change.
HAVING your IUD changed
If you're having your IUD changed (for a new IUD), you must not have sex, or have used condoms each time you’ve had sex, in the previous seven days before your IUD is changed.
This is because, if you do have sex without a condom in the previous seven days before your IUD is changed and we're unable to put in a new IUD, there's a small risk that you could get pregnant.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT
- Eat something before your appointment so you’re less likely to feel faint or dizzy.
- We suggest you take pain killers one hour before your appointment - paracetamol (two 500mg tablets) and/or ibuprofen (two 400mg tablets).
- Be dressed in comfortable clothes.
- If you have children, it is preferable to have someone to look after them while you're at your appointment.
- Give yourself enough time for the appointment – up to an hour. You might need to rest after having the IUD put in.
- Most people go straight back to work/study/usual activities after an IUD is put in. In case you feel faint or have cramps afterwards, you might want to organise for a friend or family member to take you home so you can rest for a few hours.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR APPOINTMENT
- An IUD appointment takes about 40 minutes.
- At the beginning or your appointment, the nurse or doctor will talk to you about the IUD to ensure it’s the best choice for you and the right time to put it in (i.e., there’s no risk that you’re pregnant). They’ll tell you how the IUD works and what to expect after the IUD has been put in. This takes about 20-30 minutes.
- The procedure itself to insert the IUD takes about 5-10 minutes.
- The IUD is put in your uterus (womb) by an experienced nurse or doctor. This procedure is simple and safe. Some people may feel some light pain, cramping or dizziness when the IUD is put in.
- If you're having your IUD changed (for a new IUD), this can usually be done in the same appointment.
Usually the IUD can be put in at your first appointment, but sometimes it's not possible. This could be because:
- We can’t be reasonably sure you’re not pregnant.
- You haven’t had a period since taking emergency contraception (ECP).
- You have heavy bleeding which needs to be checked out.
- It's difficult to insert the IUD.
If this is the case for you, your nurse or doctor will talk to you about what happens next. Usually, another IUD appointment will be made for you to have the IUD put in.
POSSIBLE RISKS FROM THE PROCEDURE
There are some risks from having an IUD put in:
- There is a small risk of infection (about 1%) when an IUD is put in.
- There is a very small risk of damage to the uterus (about 1 in 1000 people).
- A copper IUD might give you more bleeding and cramping during your period, but this usually gets better over time.
- The copper IUD can cause an allergic reaction. This is very rare.
- The hormonal IUD might give you irregular or light bleeding.
- The IUD can sometimes come out by itself (about 5% of all IUDs). You can check the threads are still in the right place at any time.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOUR APPOINTMENT
Most people go straight back to work/study/usual activities after the IUD is put in.
Use pads (not tampons or a menstrual cup) for the first 48 hours after your IUD is put in. You can use tampons or a menstrual cup after 48 hours.
If you have any of these issues, or if you think something doesn't feel right, contact Family Planning or your health provider as soon as possible.
PREGNANCY AND THE IUD
Pregnancy is very rare with an IUD in place.
If you do get pregnant or think you might be pregnant with an IUD in place, see your nurse or doctor as soon as possible. There's no extra risk for your baby, but there is a risk of complication in the pregnancy.
If you want to continue the pregnancy, it's better for your IUD to be removed to lower the risk of infection and miscarriage. This needs to be done early.
HOW LONG CAN AN IUD STAY IN PLACE FOR?
An IUD can stay in place for three, five or 10 years, depending on the type of IUD. When you have it put in, the nurse or doctor will tell you when it will need to be replaced.
You may be able to keep the IUD in longer if you're in your 40s. If you get a copper IUD put in after you turn 40 or a hormonal IUD put in after you turn 45, your IUD may be able to stay in place until menopause. Ask the nurse or doctor if this is an option for you.
Find out how to have your IUD removed.
CAN’T MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT?
If you can no longer make your IUD appointment with Family Planning, or would like to reschedule, please contact your local Family Planning clinic, or complete our online appointment cancellation form.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.