Intrauterine System (IUS)

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What is the difference between an IUD and an IUS?

Intrauterine devices (also known as IUDs) and intrauterine systems (also known as IUS) are both 'T' shaped long term methods of contraception that are fitted into the uterus. The main difference between an IUD and IUS is that an IUD is made of plastic and copper, and is hormone free; whereas an IUS is made of plastic and contains progestogen.

There are further differences such as the length of time each method is effective for; an IUD can stay in place for up to five or ten years, depending on the type; whereas an IUS can stay in place for up to 5 years.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantage, with some women finding that one method suits them better. It is recommended you consult your local doctor or Marie Stopes International clinic to decide on the contraceptive method that best works for you.

Where can I get an IUS from?

An intrauterine system (also known as IUS) must be inserted by a trained healthcare professional and are available at some doctorsand Marie Stopes International clinics. Some clinics do not keep stock of the IUS on hand, so will have to provide you with a prescription which you can get filled at a pharmacist, and return to the clinic to have it inserted.

Can I get a new IUS inserted when I get the old one removed?

It is possible to have a new intrauterine system (also known as IUS) inserted immediately after the other one is removed.

How is an IUS removed?

Removal of an intrauterine system (also known as IUS) is simpler than the insertion and it can be removed at any time in your cycle. However, if you do not wish to become pregnant it is important to use an alternative method of contraception in the week leading up to the removal of the device as sex during this week could result in unplanned pregnancy after the device is removed. You should never attempt to remove the device yourself and always seek the assistance of a healthcare professional.

How often do I check the strings?

You should check for strings once a month after each period, as the device will not be effective if not correctly placed. If you cannot feel the strings at any time or if you feel anything unusual such as a hard piece of plastic, you should consult your doctor and use an alternative method of contraception until the placement of the device has been checked.

How do I check the strings of an IUS?

The strings of the intrauterine system (also known as IUS) are so fine they usually stick together, so you will probably feel only 'one' string. Before checking for the strings it is important to wash your hands to prevent any infections. Get into a squatting position (as you would to insert a tampon) so you can insert one or two fingers deep into your vagina. By reaching right up inside the vagina you will feel the cervix at the far end (which feels like the tip of your nose). You should be able to feel the strings coming through the cervix – be careful not to pull on them. Checking for the strings may sometimes be difficult.
If you cannot feel the strings at any time or if you feel anything unusual such as a hard piece of plastic, you should consult your doctor and use an alternative method of contraception until the placement of the device has been checked. You may require an ultrasound to determine the position of the device. An unusual increase in the amount of bleeding during your period may also indicate that the device may have been dislodged or has fallen out.

How will I know if the IUS has moved?

The intrauterine system (also known as IUS) has two fine nylon strings attached to it which, when in place, come out through the cervix. It is important for you to learn how to feel for the strings of the device yourself to check it is correctly in place.