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A coil is the name given to an intrauterine device (or IUDs) which function as contraceptives. They are fitted by a doctor or nurse, and can work for up to five years.

  1. One time insertion by a nurse
  2. Lasts for up to five years
  3. Prevents pregnancy in nearly 99% of cases

Please note that we do not offer the contraceptive coil or similar IUDs through our service. To find out more about this form of contraception, we recommend you speak to your GP or family planning nurse.

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  1. Highly efficient protection
  2. One time application
  3. Relief from heavy periods

The ‘coil’ is a term given to certain types of intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs). This names originates from previous incarnations of these devices, which were copper-lined and coil shaped. Now, however, these devices are often supplied in more user-friendly forms, and releases a hormone which performs the same function as the pill.

Mirena, which is a contraceptive treatment made by Bayer, is referred to as an IUS (or intrauterine system), and unlike some IUDs, works to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and pain. The product can also be employed as a form of HRT for women going through the menopause and experiencing related symptoms.

This particular IUS is a small T-shaped piece of plastic. It must be inserted by a doctor or family planning nurse. A prospective user may also need to have an examination prior to use to make sure they are suitable. Following insertion, Mirena can work for up to five years.

In Mirena, the active constituent is a man-made hormone called levonorgestrel. This works in a similar way in the body to the natural hormone progesterone. Each month, the female body prepares itself for pregnancy in a number of ways. The ovaries produce an egg, ready for fertilisation, and the uterine wall develops a lining which makes it easier for an egg to embed itself there and grow.

These developments take place when natural levels of progesterone and oestrogen fall. What hormonal birth control does is supply the body with more of these hormones outside of the normal menstrual cycle. This then makes the body think that ovulation, and the building up of the endometrium, has just taken place, and doesn’t need to happen again. This both helps to prevent pregnancy, and reduce the heaviness of bleeding during periods.

Hormonal contraceptives like Mirena are only available in the UK with a prescription. Because it needs to be fitted by a trained health professional, and tests will often need to be carried out prior to fitting to make sure there are no infections present which could cause complications, Mirena is not available to buy through our online service.

However, if you would like to discuss the benefits of Mirena and whether it would suit your contraceptive needs, you can find out more by making an appointment with your doctor or family planning nurse.

Page last reviewed:  04/07/2018
Types of Treatments

Types of Treatment

There are a number of different options when it comes to IUD birth control. One of the market leaders is Mirena, which isn’t a ‘coil’ as such but works in a similar way. The product is a small piece of T-shaped plastic, which is inserted into the vagina and remains functional for five years.

How do they work?

Contained in Mirena is a substance called polydimethylsiloxane, which slowly releases the synthetic hormone, levonorgestrel. This hormone is common in many other forms of birth control, such as pills and patches. It works by supplementing levels of progesterone in the body, which can fall before ovulation is about to take place. The presence of this hormone effectively convinces the body that ovulation and other preparations for pregnancy do not need to take place, as they have already happened (when in fact they haven’t).

What are the side effects?

The side effects associated with Mirena are similar to those someone might encounter when using some combined pills, as the active ingredients are the same. However, the method of insertion may mean that these differ slightly from oral contraceptives, as might the duration of treatment. It is important to see your doctor if you think that the device is causing you harm or making you unwell.

More common side effects of Mirena include irregular menstrual bleeding, headaches or painful periods.

Can I take them with other medications?

Your suitability for this treatment may be affected by the use of other medicines, whether they are prescription, non-prescription or remedial. Tell your doctor if you are currently using any other medications during consultation.

Page last reviewed:  04/07/2018
Questions & Answers

What’s the difference between the medications?

The main advantage of Mirena is that it doesn’t have to be applied every day like a pill, or on a weekly basis like the patch, or even on a monthly cycle like the contraceptive ring; it is inserted once, and remains effective for up to five years.

Should I use a coil or combined pills?

Which product you use will largely be determined by what your body is best suited to, and the method you find easiest to use. Those who are not used to taking pills at the same time every day, or are worried that they might forget to take them, may find Mirena a more reliable option.

Are there different side effects?

There is not a huge amount of difference between the side effects associated with this and other forms of hormonal contraception. However, this type of product may cause side effects which are more specific to its application method. Consult your GP to find out more.

Is it right for me?

We would recommend that you make an appointment with your GP or family planning nurse if you would like to discuss Mirena or similar devices further.

Page last reviewed:  04/07/2018

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This content was reviewed by a clinician on

04 July 2018
dr daniel

Dr Daniel Atkinson

(GP Clinical Lead - GMC No. 4624794) 04 July 2018
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