Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) This, in e?ect, is a form of post-coital contraception. The IUCD is a plastic shape up to 3 cm long around which copper wire is wound, carrying plastic thread from its tail. Colloquially known as a coil, it acts by inhibiting implantation and may also impair migration of sperm. Devices need changing every 3–5 years. Coils have generally replaced the larger, non-copper-bearing ‘inert’ types of IUCD, which caused more complications but did not need changing (so are sometimes still found in situ). They tend to be chosen as a method of contraception (6 per cent) by older, parous women in stable relationships, with a generally low problem rate.
Nevertheless, certain problems do occur with IUCDs, the following being the most common:
They tend to be expelled by the uterus in women who have never conceived, or by a uterus distorted by, say, ?broids.
ECTOPIC PREGNANCY is more likely.
They are associated with pelvic infection and INFERTILITY, following SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STDS) – or possibly introduced during insertion.
They often produce heavy, painful periods (see MENSTRUATION), and women at high risk of these problems (e.g. women who are HIV positive [see AIDS/HIV], or with WILSON’S DISEASE or cardiac lesions) should generally be excluded – unless the IUCD is inserted under antibiotic cover.... Medical Dictionary