Find out how to get an Intra Uterine Device (IUD), what to expect, and what you need to do so that you're not at risk of pregnancy when you have your IUD appointment - the nurse or doctor must be sure that you're not pregnant.
Getting an IUD for the first time
To get an IUD for the first time, you must be using effective contraception in the month before your appointment.
Effective contraception means you must be on the pill (taking them every day), getting your depo provera injections on time or using the implant. If you're using condoms for contraception, you must be using them each time you have sex (penis in vagina sex).
If you've taken the emergency contraceptive pill in the month before your IUD is booked to be put in (inserted) and you haven't had your period since then, we may get you to do a pregnancy test. It’s possible you'll not be able to get your IUD at this appointment.
Getting your IUD changed
If you're getting your IUD changed 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.
If you want to get your IUD removed, read our 'Having your IUD removed' page.
Getting an IUD for emergency contraception
If you've had unprotected sex since your last period and you want an IUD, contact us to see if we can help you with an emergency (copper) IUD.
Getting an IUD for heavy bleeding
If you have heavy periods and want a hormonal IUD to help you manage your bleeding, the nurse or doctor may recommend the heavy bleeding is investigated before your IUD is put in.
WHEN CAN I GET MY 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).
WHAT SHOULD I BE AWARE OF?
Some people feel pain, cramps or dizziness when the IUD is put in or taken out.
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.
Sometimes your IUD can’t be put in at your appointment. This could be because:
- We can’t be reasonably sure you’re not pregnant.
- You haven’t had a period since taking ECP.
- You have heavy bleeding which needs to be checked out.
If this happens at your appointment, the nurse or doctor will talk to you about what happens next.
WHAT HAPPENS AT AN IUD APPOINTMENT?
The IUD is put in your uterus by an experienced nurse or doctor. This procedure is simple and safe.
Putting in the IUD will take about five to 10 minutes, but the whole IUD appointment will take about 40 minutes.
Before the IUD is put in, the nurse or doctor will make sure the IUD is a good option for you and that it's a safe time for it to be put in. They'll also explain how the IUD is put in and talk with you about what to expect once your IUD is in place.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN IUD IS PUT IN?
Once the IUD is put in, you can’t feel it or tell it's there except by checking for the threads. If you're having sex, your partner shouldn't be able to feel it. You can still use tampons.
The removal threads come out of your cervix and curl up inside the top of your vagina – they don’t hang outside your vagina in the way that tampon threads do.
WHAT DO I DO BEFORE MY APPOINTMENT?
Eat something before your appointment so you are less likely to feel faint or dizzy.
You might want to take pain killers one hour before your appointment – paracetamol (two 500mg tablets) and/or (ibuprofen two 400mg tablets).
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.
Give yourself enough time for the appointment – up to an hour. You might need to rest after having the IUD put in.
If you have children, have someone to look after them while you're at your appointment.
Sometimes we can’t put the IUD in the first time. You might need to come back for another appointment.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER MY APPOINTMENT?
Use pads (not tampons) for the first 48 hours.
Check your IUD threads are still there after every period or at the start of each month.
If you have any of the issues below, or if you think something doesn't feel right, see Family Planning or your health provider as soon as possible.
- Pain in your lower tummy.
- Unusual or smelly discharge.
- Bleeding between periods.
- Really heavy or painful periods.
- Pain with sex.
- If your temperature is up AND you have any of the above.
- If you are unable to feel the threads (if you could before).
- If you can feel the plastic stem of the IUD (you think the IUD is coming out).
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.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.