The Coil (IUD): The Need To Know on Nailing Non-Hormonal Contraception

The blogosphere is notably quiet when it comes to discussing topics like contraception and sex. We’ll write about clothes, what we eat, where we eat, and crap like 10 ways to smell like Beyonce, but writing about how we stop nature in its tracks and prevent us creating a 15-strong brood of mini-me’s? Not so much (I get it, Instagramming a picture of condoms is so teenage, and a snapshot of you and your boyfriend at it? It’s a bit Kim Kardashian)

But we all have sex, and I assume by the fact none of my friends have babies yet that most of us use birth control, so why not open up the discussion a little? With so many options out there – femidom anyone? – it can be hard to work out what’s the best choice. And the chances are, when you went to the doctors to get a less-fumbly form of contraception than condoms sorted out, you left the pharmacy clutching a little white bag of Microgynon boxes that basically declared to the world I AM SEXUALLY ACTIVE! But contraception isn’t a one size fits all kind of thing. Chloe Plumstead shared her experience of the contraceptive injection, offering up an insight into that method. I’ve certainly not been shy in vocalising my dislike for hormonal contraception in the past (if you want the back story, you can read about how taking the pill for 7 years turned me into a psychotic bitch) and after thousands of women shared their experience with #MyPillStory on Twitter, it’s all pretty evident that I wasn’t the only one hating on pill-popping. Taking those hormones made me an irrational, anxious, depressed bitch, but I really didn’t fancy being a mum right now either, so what are the non-hormonal contraception methods? 

Well condoms, femidoms, spermicides, diaphragms, and the copper coil (IUD). I opted to have the coil fitted because well, there’s nothing less sexier than saying “hold on a minute darling, give me 10 seconds to put some spermicide inside me and get the femidom in place.” We all know copper is having a serious moment in interiors – it just so happens to be having one in my interiors too. So here’s a little breakdown on the NTK and my experience.

What is the copper coil?

It’s a T-shaped device that’s inserted into your womb and has two little strings that come down through your cervix into the top of your V. Apparently you’re supposed to be able to feel these but that just creeps me out so I won’t be trying that anytime soon… It can last for up to 10 years and once it’s in you don’t have to worry about it, and just let it do it’s thing.

What is its thing? How does it work? 

Good question. I thought it was like a plug that stopped sperm going to your eggs. But I was so very wrong. It releases copper, which in turn changes the make-up of the fluids in the womb and fallopian tubes, stopping sperm surviving there. So basically it kills all the little sperm. #sorrynotsorry

How did they fit it and did it hurt? 

Put down whatever you’re eating! If you’ve had a smear test, it’s a bit like that. The vagina is held open, and the IUD is inserted through the cervix and into the womb. It really wasn’t that fun. But, now it’s there I don’t ever have to worry about it and there’s no £27 trips to boots for the morning after pill. Just dose up on painkillers beforehand. I had a local anaesthetic too because I’m a total baby.

How effective is it? 

More than 99%. So no baby Milner’s for me and whichever poor unsuspecting bloke tried to impregnate me.

So apart from the uncomfortable installation, are there any other disadvantages? 

There sure is (remember, not everyone’s the same, these are just issues that are common and that I’ve experienced)

  • Hate to be that kind of girl, but, my period pains are worse than your period pains. I’ve always had them bad anyway, but when I first had the coil fitted, they were a million times worse. Imagine a giant eagle squeezing your lady organs with its talons. Then ripping them to shreds with its killer beak. Then being hit by an angry man with a baseball bat in the ovaries. It’s like that. But worse. Luckily, however, they settle down after a few months. So now I’m only having to contend with previous levels of ovary-agony hell. 
  • Periods are heavier. Without wanting to be too gory, the first day is usually a bloodbath. Like a scene from a poorly-executed, low-budget Jack The Ripper film. Don’t be away from the toilet for over an hour, that’s all I’m saying. But like the period pains, it does settle down a little bit after a few months. 
  • I can’t imagine whispering in your lovers ear in the throes of passion“don’t worry, I have the coil” has the same boner-inflating affect as “Yeah it’s sound I’m on the pill.” 

Disadvantages aside, I’d so much rather not ever have to worry about getting pregnant – until I actually want a baby, then I’ll have to get this thing removed. And unlike hormonal contraception, you don’t deal with any changes to your weight or skin. 
So there’s the run down! On a final note, it has to be said, the copper coil doesn’t protect against STI’s. So make sure you use a condom anyway until you can at least trust the guy you’re sleeping with isn’t also sleeping with every other Hannah, Susannah and Jane. Or for major lols, why not try out Dr. Felix’s Sexual Exposure and STI Risk Calculator to work out how many people you’ve been sexually exposed to?

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  1. I've actually been looking into this for a loooong time. It mildly annoys me how all UK doctors automatically shove the pill in your face (at least my experience), when there are so many other options out there. The main reason I haven't gone on the coil yet is because of the whole period aspect – it seems to be a very common side effect, and yes, my cramps are very much what you described. In the long term though, it seems to be the least harmful method, so hopefully one day I'll go for it!

  2. I'm glad you talk about this, just like I enjoyed Chloe's post.
    I'm not interested in getting an implant but the coil sounds ok for me.
    I'm still on the pill, it's been 10 years. The first one I got was fine, nothing happened to my body/mood, it was right for me but there was bad news about Meliane, it could be dangerous so 4 years ago I changed and this one make my life a complete hell: depression, high anxiety, my skin is awful, I have mood switchs and I gained a looooot of weight, like a lot, I'm not even the same person. On top of that, I now have thyroid problems that makes all these down sides even worse. It might be related to that pill but it could be something else.
    So now I just want to stop that shit but it's hard to take that step, I just fear my body would react badly after a decade on pill.