What you need to know about the non-hormonal coil

The non-hormonal coil is a small, T-shaped device made of copper and plastic that’s inserted into the womb (uterus) by a specially trained clinician. 

It’s a very effective method of contraception and lasts for up to 10 years, depending on the type. The non-hormonal coil won’t change the pattern of your cycle, but it can make periods longer or heavier.

Also known as

  • IUD

  • Cu-IUD

  • copper coil

  • the coil

If you would like a highly effective, non-hormonal and long term method and your periods are not too heavy to start with, then this is a good method for you. The fitting process can be painful but people experience it very differently. Some will have no pain at all and some will find it very difficult. The removal process is quick and much easier than fitting. If your periods are very heavy, then you may wish to consider the hormone coil as this will make them lighter, or make them disappear.

Dr Paula Baraitser. Medical Director, SH:24

Likelihood of getting pregnant over one year

The non-hormonal coil is over 99% effective. This means that fewer than 1 in 100 people a year will get pregnant when using this type of coil.

The non-hormonal coil is a good option if you…

  • want a hormone-free method of contraception

  • want contraception you can get fitted and then forget about 

  • want a long-lasting method of contraception

It’s not recommended if you have...

  • heavy periods, or people who want to stop their periods or make them lighter

  • an unusually sized or shaped uterus, for example, if you have large fibroids

  • untreated STIs (sexually transmitted infections), though you can have a coil fitted once they’re treated

  • an allergy to copper

  • irregular bleeding, where the cause is unknown 

  • serious heart conditions managed by a cardiologist – these include single ventricle circulation, Eisenmenger physiology, rapid heartbeat or pre-existing slow heartbeat

The non-hormonal coil is an effective form of contraception

It’s one of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy.

After the non-hormonal coil is inserted – depending on what type you get – it lasts for up to 10 years.

This means you don’t need to remember to do anything with it on a daily basis, or when you’re having sex. If you prefer not to think about contraception, it might be a good method for you.

Getting the non-hormonal coil fitted and removed

Some people find getting the coil fitted painful. Others don’t. It’s usually a short procedure, which takes less than 10 minutes and requires an internal examination. It’s a good idea to prepare for your appointment and take it easy afterwards.

You can have your coil removed at any time – this is usually a very quick procedure, simpler than having it fitted. 

To prevent pregnancy, you’ll need to use another method of contraception for 7 days before it’s removed. This is because an egg can take a few days to travel along the fallopian tube to the womb, by which time the coil may not be there to stop the egg from implanting. Your fertility will return to whatever is normal for you as soon as it is removed.  

Learn more about getting the coil fitted

There are some side effects

The main side effect of the non-hormonal coil is that your periods can become longer and heavier. It’s most common to get some spotting in the days before and after your period, and increased bleeding on the heaviest days.

Learn more about side effects of the coil

How long does it take to start working?

The non-hormonal coil prevents pregnancy as soon as it is fitted.

Did you know...?

You can use tampons with your non-hormonal coil in place. Many people also use menstrual cups with their IUD. There’s no evidence that this will dislodge your coil, but do take care to break the suction with your finger before removing your cup.

Everything you wanted to know about sexual health and wellbeing - your questions answered by our expert team.