The hormonal coil or 'IUS' is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is inserted into your womb by a doctor or nurse. It releases the hormone progestogen into your womb. It is increasingly popular and has the highest overall satisfaction rating of all the methods reviewed at The Lowdown.
The IUS (hormonal coil) lasts between 3-6 years, depending on the brand of coil. After this time, you will need to book an appointment to get it removed or replaced by a doctor or nurse. You will need to use another method of contraception, or get a new coil if you don't want to fall pregnant. Find out more about coil removal in our guide to the IUS.
Can the IUS coil cause weight gain?
There is no evidence the the hormonal coil can affect weight, but some women still report this side effect. Make sure to take a look at our users' reviews to see how our community report the IUS affects their weight.You can also take a look our guide to contraception and weight to find out more.
Does the hormonal coil affect acne?
It's unclear as to whether or not the hormonal coil can affect acne. According to our user reviews, some women find their acne is worse after having a hormonal coil inserted. However the levels of progestogen are much less than that found in the contraceptive pill, so therefore the impact may be less noticeable. Take a look at our user reviews or head to our guide on acne and the pill to find out more.
Can the IUS cause mood swings?
Hormonal methods of contraception may affect your mood. However there are several factors that influence this such as your age, medical history and contraceptive history, as well as what else may be going on in your life. Our review data seems to indicate that fewer users of the hormonal IUS are reporting that it negatively impacts their mood vs. other hormonal methods. Some women report an improvement in mood changes or mood swings throughout their cycle (associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)). Make sure to check out our users' reviews to see how our community shares their experiences with this. You can also find out more in our guide to contraception and mood.
Why am I bleeding on the hormonal coil?
Frequent bleeding and spotting is common in the first 3 months after insertion and can continue for 6 months in some women. Science isn't quite sure why this happens, although we think it's that the blood vessels in the womb lining become more fragile and therefore it becomes thinner over time. However, if you persist there is a 90% reduction in bleeding over 12 months of use. After 1 year, most women have infrequent or no bleeding at all and after 3 years, 1 in 4 women won't have any periods. However, some women may also continue to have spotting or light irregular bleeding long term.
How the Hormonal coil (IUS) works:
The hormonal coil works by releasing the hormone progestogen gradually into your womb. This prevents pregnancy by making the fluid in your cervix thicker (which makes it more difficult for sperm to enter the womb), and preventing the lining of your womb thickening enough for a fertilised egg to implant in it. Sometimes it can also stop you ovulating.
How to use the Hormonal coil (IUS):
You need to go to a GP surgery or sexual health clinic where some staff are trained to fit coils. Find out more about coil fittings.
Once the hormonal coil is fitted, the only requirement is that you check you can feel your threads which hang down through the neck of the womb in the top of the vagina. You should do this regularly, every few weeks, to make sure that your coil is in place. Read our blog about how to check your coil threads.
If your coil is fitted in the first 7 days of your cycle, you’ll be protected against pregnancy immediately. If it’s fitted at any other time, you'll need to use condoms or other contraception for 7 days afterwards. You can read our comprehensive guide on how the hormonal coil works.
To maintain its effectiveness the hormonal coil will need to be replaced before it runs out, you should check when this will be with the doctor or nurse who does the fitting. Your hormonal coil can be removed at any time by a trained doctor or nurse. It’s normally simpler than having it fitted – they will gently pull on the threads and the T shape folds up and it can be pulled out of the womb.
How safe is the Hormonal coil (IUS):
On the whole, the hormonal coil is very safe. However, there’s a small risk that on insertion the coil may go through the wall of the womb and ‘perforate’ it. If this happens, then you may need surgery to remove it but this is rare. Following the coil insertion, there is also a slight risk of infection which may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. If you have unusual or smelly discharge, abdominal or pelvic pain, a high temperature or chills, you should contact your doctor.
In the rare circumstance you become pregnant whilst using the coil there’s a small increased risk of ectopic pregnancy – when the egg implants outside the womb, normally the fallopian tubes. However, the overall risk of ectopic pregnancy is less in women using a coil than in women using no contraception at all.
It's important to remember that it does not protect you from STIs.