The intrauterine device (IUD), also called a coil is a small T shaped object approximately 3 cm in length and generally made of flexible plastic. It is placed in the uterus by a doctor At its end, the device has one or two nylon wires which is/are used to confirm its presence. Most coils are covered with a copper wire although they can also deliver a progestogen (levonorgestrel).
The IUDs (coils) act by several mechanisms. Firstly, by modifying the internal wall of the uterus. Secondly, by damaging spermatozoa because of the copper they contain. Lastly, the progesterone IUD combines the mechanical action of the IUD with the hormonal action of progesterone.
The IUD has a number of advantages if it is not contraindicated: it is highly effective (97 to 99.5%), has a long duration of action (5 to 10 years depending on the model) and there is no risk of forgetting to take it as there is with the pill. Women become fertile again immediately after it is removed.
The IUD (coil) is prescribed by a doctor after a consultation including a gynaecological examination. It is used to assess whether it is appropriate in your situation (they do have a number of contraindications) and what type of coil is more suitable for you. Once you have your prescription you go to a pharmacist who will dispense it to you (don't be worried about the size of the box, remember it is only 3 cm long!).