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The non-hormonal IUD

What is a non-hormonal IUD?

The non-hormonal IUD (also known as the Copper IUD) is a small, long-lasting T-shaped device that is inserted into the womb by a healthcare provider to prevent pregnancy. It does not contain hormones and is made of plastic and copper. The copper is released in safe amounts into the womb.

When used correctly, this IUD has a very high chance of preventing pregnancy. The non-hormonal IUD does not prevent STIs and HIV but a male/external or female/internal condom can.

How does the non-hormonal IUD work?

The copper in this IUD prevents sperm from moving around in the womb. The copper also stops a fertilised egg from implanting into your womb.

How often can you use the non-hormonal IUD?

Depending on the brand, it is effective for five to ten years.

How do you use the non-hormonal IUD?

A trained healthcare provider will insert the IUD into your womb at a health facility. The non-hormonal IUD is available at government health facilities.

Who can use the non-hormonal IUD?

Most women can safely use this IUD for years as a contraception method to protect themselves against pregnancy

Who cannot use the non-hormonal IUD?

You should not use the non-hormonal IUD if you do not have access to a trained healthcare provider to insert it.

For medical reasons, you should not use the non-hormonal IUD if:

  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
  • The structure of your womb is abnormal.
  • You have cancer of the womb.


  • Depending on the brand, this IUD can protect women against pregnancy for five to ten years at a time.
  • You do not need to remember to use this IUD every day. 
  • If you are breastfeeding, you can use this IUD to prevent pregnancy. 
  • If you are planning on having a family, you should be able to fall pregnant soon after removing this IUD.


  • You may experience irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding and some pain immediately after insertion of this IUD.
  • This IUD must be removed and replaced by a trained healthcare provider after five to ten years depending on the brand.

Important points to remember when using the hormonal IUD

  • If you are planning to get pregnant soon, consider using a method that doesn’t last long because this IUD prevents pregnancy for five to ten years
  • Mild and treatable side-effects from this IUD sometimes occur like abdominal pain and vaginal discharge. 
  • If you feel like this IUD is no longer in the correct place, is slipping out or you can feel the strings attached to it please ask your healthcare worker to check if it is in the correct position.

How do I get additional protection against HIV and STIs when using the non-hormonal IUD?

For additional protection against HIV and STIs, different prevention options can be explored, such as PrEP and using a condom. Using condoms and contraception together is what we call “dual protection”. 

Is the non-hormonal IUD your ideal contraceptive? Take the test!

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