Health benefits, risks and side effects of the non-hormonal coil

The non-hormonal coil is a very effective method of contraception that doesn’t rely on hormones. This makes it good for people who have health risks associated with hormonal methods, or who don’t want to put additional hormones into their bodies.

The main side effect of the non-hormonal coil is that your periods can become longer and heavier.

Health benefits of the non-hormonal coil

The non-hormonal coil may reduce your risk of cancer of the cervix, and cancer of the lining of the womb (uterus).

Health risks of the non-hormonal coil

The non-hormonal coil is generally a safe and effective method of contraception, but there are some important health risks linked to it.

Before fitting, your clinician will ask about:

  • your family medical history

  • your past medical history

They’ll also explain the risks involved in having it fitted.

Learn more about having the non-hormonal coil fitted

Changes the risk of ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that starts growing in the fallopian tubes rather than the womb.

Because the non-hormonal coil is so effective at stopping eggs from being fertilised in the womb, if a pregnancy does occur, there’s a higher chance that it developed outside the uterus. But there's no increased risk for ectopic pregnancies just from having an IUD.

If you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy in the past, the IUD may not work as well to stop another pregnancy starting in your fallopian tubes.

If you’re using the non-hormonal coil and you think you might be pregnant, it’s really important to do a pregnancy test as soon as possible. If it turns out to be positive and you are pregnant, then you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

May increase risk of bacterial vaginosis and thrush

The copper coil makes thrush or bacterial vaginosis worse for some people and you may want to consider the hormonal coil instead if you experience these.

Side effects of the non-hormonal coil  

The main side effect of the non-hormonal coil is that your periods can become longer and heavier. It’s common to get some spotting in the days before and after your period, and then increased bleeding on the heaviest days.

As there's no hormone used, it does not cause any hormone-related side effects such as acne or breast tenderness or mood changes.

Theses side effects will not affect your health, but they can be difficult to live with.

Pelvic pain 

An IUD can cause pelvic pain. A study of 200 people who stopped using the non-hormonal coil because of side effects reported that 35% of them had it removed because of pain or cramping.

What to do if you experience side effects 

Everyone experiences different types of hormonal contraception differently. If you're getting side effects that you do not like, keep a record of how you feel on it, then try a different method to see whether it’s any better.

Sometimes it can be hard to know if any symptoms you have are because of your contraception or something else.  

We recommend that you: 

  • keep a record of any side effects to see how they change over time

  • discuss it with your clinician, particularly if it carries on after using the contraception for 3 months

  • stop if you have unpleasant side effects over a longer period of time, and try an alternative method of contraception

Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error before finding the right method of contraception for you. And what’s right for you may change over time. So just because one method suited you in the past, doesn’t mean it will suit you now.

Everything you wanted to know about sexual health and wellbeing - your questions answered by our expert team.