Sexual Health

The IUS (hormonal coil)

There are four methods of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) to choose from; contraceptive injection, the contraceptive implantthe intrauterine device (IUD or non hormonal coil) and the intrauterine system (IUS or hormonal coil). This summary is about IUS (hormonal) coil. 

The benefit of LARCs are that they are “fit and forget” methods so once fitted or given, women are protected from getting pregnant until they need to replace them or choose to have them removed.
 
An Intrauterine system (IUS) is a small, plastic device very similar to an IUD, which also sits in the womb. It releases a hormone called progesterone.



Intrauterine system, IUS, coil

Intrauterine system, IUS, Coil, in womb diagram

There are two brands used in the UK – Mirena and Jaydess. The most popular is the Mirena and is often referred to by its brand name. As a method of contraception the IUS is more than 99% effective. Less than one in every 100 women who use Mirena will get pregnant in five years, and less than one in 100 who use Jaydess will get pregnant in three years (NHS Choices 2015).
 
A Mirena lasts for 5 years, and a Jaydess (which is a bit smaller and releases a smaller amount of hormone) lasts for 3 years. Unlike the IUD, a hormonal IUS cannot be used for emergency contraception.

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An IUS does not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections. If there is any possibility of infection, condoms should be used as well.
 
Why do people choose to have an intrauterine system fitted? People told us that they found it hard to remember to take the pill every day or needed to stop using the pill because of medical reasons such as high blood pressure or medications for other conditions like epilepsy or HIV (see more on epilepsy and contraception).
 
The women we interviewed got advice and information about hormonal and non-hormonal coils - from their doctors, or from sexual health clinics. Leaflets gave them the pros and cons of each method and helped them know what to expect after being fitted with an IUS (possible bleeding and period-like pain for a few days). None of the women we interviewed had used a IUS (only IUDs) – if you would like to tell us about your experiences of IUS please contact info@healthtalk.org for more information.
 
People often think that only women who have been pregnant can use an IUD or IUS. This is not true, IUD and IUS are safe and effective options for nearly all women, regardless of whether they've had children.

Some of the women we talked to were concerned about using an IUS. Most women using the IUS have less bleeding each month because of the hormone secreted by the IUS, and irregular or no bleeding at all is also possible with the IUS method.
 
Some women are not able to use an IUS for medical reasons. Natasha was told that her womb is an odd shape. This means that there are limits to what contracpetion she can use and her ability to get pregnant and have children is affected too.

Last reviewed January 2016
Last updated January 2016

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