The Copper ‘Coil’ or Intra uterine device (IUD) is a small T shaped copper device that is fitted into a Woman’s womb to stop her from becoming pregnant. It is done in the Doctor’s office without the need for general or local anaesthetic. It is passed via a speculum just like when a pap smear is taken. It can be a little uncomfortable so we usually advise people to take some Panadol about an hour before hand. You can sometimes get a bit of cramping after the procedure just like you can with a period.
A copper IUD can last for up to 10 years and if you want to become pregnant in that time it is a very simple Doctor’s office appointment to remove it . There is no delay in return to fertility.
It is a good long active reversible method of Contraception for those who do not want hormones. In some people it can make the periods slightly heavier or more painful so if you are someone who already suffers with this you may prefer the Mirena coil which lightens the periods.
The Mirena coil is also T shaped but it contains one hormone, Progesterone, which is released very slowly and locally into the womb over a 5 year period. This thins the lining of the womb and therefore prevents pregnancy. This also means that it lightens the periods and it is actually a licensed treatment for heavy periods. It can sometimes cause a bit of irregular bleeding which often settles down after 3 months, but sometimes doesn’t. In some women after many months they can actually end up with no periods at all which many women find quite convenient! This is perfectly safe.
Both methods are safe in young women even if they have not had a baby and also can be fitted 6 weeks after giving birth.
Ideally you should have an initial consultation prior to your fitting appointment to see if the Copper IUD or Mirena might be right for you and to discuss the risks and to decide the best safest time to fit it.
Cervical Screening – Pap Smears
Cervical screening aims to detect changes in the neck of the womb (called the cervix) before they become cancerous, so that treatment can be given to prevent cancer.
A small plastic speculum is inserted into the vagina to hold the walls of the vagina open so that the doctor can see the neck of the womb or cervix. A gentle scraping is then taken with a wooden spatula or brush and cells are either deposited onto a slide or into a suspension. These are then sent off to be looked at down the microscope by a pathologist to see if there are any precancerous changes.
It should start by age 26 and happen at least every three years until age 59, unless more frequent checks are necessary because changes are found. The newer liquid based cytology method which is as above also allows us to test for the common types of Human Papilloma virus which cause cancer.
This is not painful and probably won’t be the best part of your day, but it sure beats treatment for Cancer!