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Risks Associated With the Contraceptive Coil

Reviewed by
Date published
24/01/2022
Date last updated
21/12/2021
Length of read
6 Minutes

The contraceptive coil has risen in popularity over the past year, with more and more women realising the benefits it holds. But, just like all other forms of contraception, there are some risks to be aware of. This guide will talk you through more about the contraceptive coil and the potential risks associated with it.

What Is A Contraceptive Coil?

Contraceptive coils are increasingly known as IUDs or Intrauterine Devices, although they have been marketed under a variety of names in the past. The term ‘intrauterine' refers to where your IUD will reside when placed - within the womb.

Because the first versions were coil-shaped in the 1960s, they're frequently referred to as coils, but modern devices are T-shaped and have a copper tube around the base.

An IUD will also have two strings dangling down from the womb to allow both the patient and a qualified health professional to verify its position and location. They aren't, as some people incorrectly believe, to enable you to remove the device yourself. Because all IUDs must be removed by a trained health care provider like a GP or qualified nurse, they are not intended to allow removal of the equipment oneself.

It's a fairly popular kind of birth control in the United Kingdom, with around 140,000 women using it each year. However, when compared to the 3.5 million British women who use the contraceptive pill, this is a modest number.

How Does The Coil Work?

The coil is one of the most popular non-hormonal long-term contraceptives, and with a 99% success rate, it's comparable to the mini-pill in terms of effectiveness.

However, despite the fact that it lacks hormones, it still has risks and unpleasant side effects.

The IUD relies on its form and copper ions released by the device to regulate the environment of the reproductive system.

The IUD is a highly effective method of birth control because it works in three distinct ways:

  • Killing sperm
  • Making your cervical mucus inhabitable for sperm
  • Preventing a fertilized egg from embedding in the womb.

Risks Associated With The Contraceptive Coil

Some women believe that the lack of hormones in the copper coil indicates a lack of adverse effects, but this isn't true. There are a variety of problems that can develop as a result of IUDs, including:

Abdominal Pain

The coil is most likely to generate discomfort during insertion, especially if the woman has not given birth before because the uterus will be less distended. The IUD has also been linked to back pain and abdominal cramps, which many patients report last for a few days after the device is put in.

Cramping

The IUD might cause nausea, vomiting, and/or stomach cramps immediately after placement. It can also induce these symptoms for a few days following the procedure.

The IUD has also been shown to aggravate menstrual cramps, so if you're already prone to severe pain, inform your doctor/nurse before getting the IUD inserted because they may recommend a different option.

One of the primary motivating factors for patients who plan to get their IUD removed is the severe menstrual cramps they experience as a result of it.

Irregular Bleeding

The coil is also known for causing spotting, irregular cycles, and more frequently, heavier and more severe bleeding during periods.

The heavier periods generally peak in the first 3-6 months and then level off, however, heavy cycles caused by the IUD are another typical reason for women to have the foreign body removed.

If you have severe menstrual cramps or low iron levels as a result of intense periods, your doctor or nurse may recommend the Mirena Coil (a hormonal IUD that can manage heavy bleeding).

Infections

An infection can develop if an IUD is inserted following the introduction of germs at the time of placement, or if an STI is present when the IUD is put in.

The most serious infection a coil can potentially exacerbate is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which is an inflammation of the uterus lining, fallopian tubes, or ovaries.

PID-induced infertility is a serious situation that should not be taken lightly. Because persistent or repeated occurrences can lead to fertility issues, it's critical to identify and treat PID promptly.

Ectopic Pregnancy

There is a very small, but somewhat increased, risk of having an ectopic pregnancy when using IUDs to prevent intrauterine pregnancies.

Ectopic pregnancy, which is a medical emergency, is a condition in which the fertilized egg begins to develop outside of the uterus. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding or vomiting, and ectopic pregnancies are potentially quite dangerous for both mother and fetus.

Perforation (Holes)

The coil has the ability to puncture or perforate the uterus and migrate, although this is very unusual. If it happens, it will generally cause severe abdominal discomfort accompanied by significant bleeding, continuing nausea, or fainting.

If you have any of the above symptoms following an IUD placement, or if you feel unwell at any time after the procedure, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or a nurse.