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All about IUCs (intrauterine contraceptives)
The IUC is placed in your uterus to keep you from
IUCs have a plastic frame with either copper or a hormone to make
them work. The IUC keeps the man’s sperm from meeting the
woman’s egg. Once it is in place, you don’t have to think about
birth control every day.
What the IUC looks like
There are two kinds of IUCs.
Both kinds work well for women of all ages. Talk to your
Family PACT provider about which IUC would be best for you.
- The hormone IUC works for up to 3 or 5 years. After a few
months, women have lighter and fewer periods than they
did before, with less cramping. Periods may even stop.
- The copper IUC can be used for up to 10 years. It has
no hormones and very few side effects. Women still have
How well does the IUC work?
The IUC is one of the best methods you can choose to
prevent pregnancy. Fewer than 1 out of 100 women who
use an IUC for one year get pregnant.
How do I get an IUC?
You must go to a trained clinician. He or she can put it in
your uterus any time of the month. It can be put in even
when you are on your period.
What do women like about using the IUC?
- The woman doesn’t have to do anything else to keep
from getting pregnant for years at a time.
- You can use this method without others knowing it.
- Some women like that the copper IUC has no
hormones. Others like the lighter periods they have
with the hormone IUC.
This IUC fits in a woman's body
The IUC may not be safe for
Talk to your Family PACT provider about
any health problems you may have.
- If you have an infection of the uterus or
- If you have vaginal bleeding for no known
- If you have cancer of the cervix or breast.
- If you could be pregnant.
How is the IUC placed?
A clinician uses a very thin plastic tube to
slip it into your uterus
- It slips through your vagina and cervix,
the opening to the uterus.
- The IUC stays in your uterus.
- The clinician takes the thin tube out.
- It takes just a few minutes.
- When it is put in, you may feel discomfort
or pain for a short while.
Take care of yourself afterwards.
- Some women feel dizzy or have cramps
right after the IUC is put in. This is
normal. Your provider may offer you pain
medication, like ibuprofen or naproxen.
- You may have some spotting the first day
- For the first 24 hours, make sure you do
NOT put anything in your vagina. Don’t
have sex. Do not use a tampon or put
your finger inside.
- Call your provider right away if you have
chills or fever you can’t explain.
Are there problems with using it?
IUCs are safe for most women to use.
Besides changes to your periods, there are
- The IUC won’t stay in some women’s
- Women who use the hormone IUC may
have headaches, mood changes, or tender
breasts. These problems may last for up
to 6 months.
Here are some helpful tips.
Was the IUC put in more than 7 days after
- With the hormone IUC, you will need to
use another birth control method for the
first 7 days.
- The copper IUC keeps you from getting
pregnant right away. You don’t need any
There will be two short threads that you can feel.
- Check the threads each month to make
sure the IUC is in place.
- If you have a heavy period, check to
make sure you can feel the threads.
- To feel the threads, put your finger into
your vagina as far as you can.
If you have any problems with the IUC, talk
with your provider. If needed, you can have
it taken out at any time.
© 2012 Department of Health Care Services, Office of Family Planning.
All Rights Reserved. For additional copies, go to: www.familypact.org
OF2575 IUC ENG
Watch for these warning signs.
Call your provider right away if:
- The threads feel longer or shorter or you
can’t feel them at all.
- You can feel part of the IUC coming
through your cervix.
- You have pain or bleeding with sex.
- You think you might be pregnant.
- You have cramping or heavy bleeding.
The IUC does not protect
you from HIV (the virus)
that causes AIDS) or other
infections that people get
from having sex.
Use condoms (for men or women)
when you have sex to protect yourself
from these infections.