The IUCD is a small device placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. The commonly used IUCD are made of plastic wound with copper wire, often in the shape of a T. There are also other types made of plastic alone, stainless steel alone, or hormone-releasing models. Different IUCD need to be changed at different intervals of 4 to10 years. How exactly an IUCD prevents pregnancy is not known, but it is thought to interfere with sperm and egg migration and embryo implantation. It is an effective long-term birth control method and does not interfere with sexual intercourse. If the IUCD is in place, the couple will not notice its presence. The woman can check whether the IUCD is in place by feeling for the device’s thread in her vagina.
Insertion of the IUCD must be performed by a trained clinical professional, usually during the first 5 days of the woman’s menses. If she has recently given birth, the IUCD can be inserted at 6-8 weeks during the post-natal check-up. After insertion, there may be slight bleeding and abdominal cramps or the IUCD may occasionally be expelled, hence it is important to return for check-up afterwards. Pelvic infection may get more severe in IUCD users and affect subsequent fertility. Therefore, it is not an ideal choice of contraception for women with active infection or those who have multiple sexual partners. The IUCD may also cause heavier menstrual flow and cramps, but these usually subside after several months. If a woman develops heavy bleeding, abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal discharge or fever, she should consult a doctor. The IUCD can be easily removed when it is due for change or when pregnancy is desired.