Intrauterine Systems (IUS)

Your Contraception Guide

Written by Hormone Health Associate Dr Tina Peers Consultant in Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare.

Last month Hormone Health launched their first ever mini-series to contraception. With over 15 different methods of contraception currently available in the UK choosing the right contraception is so important.

This month Dr Tina Peers Consultant in Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare looks at intrauterine systems (IUS) – also known as the long- acting contraceptive methods. Appearing high up on Dr Peers ‘wish list’ of best contraceptive methods available, our latest blog looks at how IUS work, who can use them and possible side effects.

Choosing birth control

When women consider their contraceptive options, they usually have a “Wish List” in mind that should be fulfilled by the method that they choose.

This means that the contraceptive should be:

  • Safe
  • Very reliable
  • Easy to use
  • Should have as low a dose of hormone as possible
  • Can be fully and efficiently reversed with a prompt return of fertility.

If there are any additional health benefits they are seen as an added bonus! 

Are you still unsure which contraception might be right for you – Take the Quiz

 What is the best form of birth control with the least side effects?

I like to open the discussion, with this ‘Wish List’ in mind, by presenting the best methods first – the ones that can tick all of the above boxes!

Currently the best methods we have available are the intrauterine systems. These include the Mirena, Kyleena and Jaydess.

What are intrauterine systems? (IUS)

IUS are small devices that are made from silastic (silicon rubber) and are placed inside the uterine cavity by a simple procedure, which we can do in the clinic. They have a reservoir of progestogen that releases a small dose of the hormone into the uterus every 24 hours, giving long acting reversible contraception.

How long do they last and how effective are they?

Outside of sterilisation, the IUS is the most effective type of contraception. According to the NHS, Intrauterine system (IUS) are more than 99% effective. An IUS normally works for 3 to 5 years, depending on the type you choose, but, of course, can be taken out earlier. Fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant over the 3 to 5 years when using an IUS. 

Did you know?
  • Mirena is one of the most effective low-maintenance birth control methods lasting up to five years with a release rate 20 mcg/day of levenorgestrol.
  • Kyleena is smaller than the Mirena in size and dose. It is still a 5-year IUS with reduced release rate 9mcg/day
  • Jaydess – Has the same physical frame size as the Kyleena, and the lowest amount of hormone of all IUS’s lasting three years with a release rate of 6 mcg/day
How do they work?

The progestogen hormone thins the lining of the uterus so that, after a few weeks of light spotting and bleeding, the periods usually become very light, very short, pain-free, and often absent.

Their main action is to make the plug of mucus in the cervix impenetrable to sperm and act as a barrier preventing fertilisation.

Find out more about how an IUS stops sperm in their tracks.

What are some of the non – contraceptive benefits women can enjoy with this method?

The Mirena can also be used for women with heavy menstrual bleeding, often preventing them from having to have a hysterectomy. It’s useful in the treatment of endometriosis and often helps reduce PMT (Pre-Menstrual Tension). All of the devices make the period very light short and pain-free. The Mirena is more likely to stop the periods altogether. With the Kyleena 50% of women will have no periods at all.

Are there any contra indications to these methods?

There are very few! We take a full history to ensure that the method is appropriate for you on an individual basis. This method is ideal for women who do not want to have oestrogen in their contraceptive.

How popular are they?

In all the studies comparing different methods, we can see that women prefer the IUS contraceptive to any other method. This is demonstrated in the continuation rates which are over 80% at one and two years, as opposed to the combined pill which has a less than 50% continuation rate at six months.
Studies asking about satisfaction with the method also show that almost 80% of women are satisfied or very satisfied with the method.
This method is just extremely convenient. We call it the fit and forget contraceptive!

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