Thinking of having a coil fitted?

Before you attend for a coil fit or refit there are few things you need to know.

Before the procedure:

Timing of coil fit:

  • Before a coil can be fitted it is important that there is no chance you are pregnant.
  • Continue regular, effective contraception up until your coil fitting.
  • The ideal time to fit a coil is during your period, around the 3rd or 4th day of bleeding. The insertion procedure is easier at this time in the menstrual cycle. However if this is not possible it is important to ensure that there is no risk of pregnancy so either abstain from intercourse, use a prescribed alternative contraceptive or careful condom use until the coil is fitted. After fitting, a copper coil is effective immediately, a Mirena (or equivalent hormone releasing coil) is effective after 7 days so contraception/abstinence is required until then.
  • If you don’t have periods at present, for example during breastfeeding, a coil fit can be arranged at any time providing there is no chance of pregnancy. In some circumstances a negative pregnancy test may be needed before a coil can be fitted. To rely on a negative result, effective contraception or abstinence from sex is required for the 3 weeks before the pregnancy test.

After a baby:

  • In surgery we usually arrange coil fitting from 6 weeks postnatally (however this can be done from 4 weeks postnatally by contacting the sexual health clinic), there are other forms of contraception available to use prior to this if needed (for more information visit, or discuss with a GP)

Coil replacement:

  • If you are having a coil removed and a new coil replaced please avoid sex or use condoms for 7 days before the procedure. In a small number of women it isn’t possible to refit the coil and if unprotected sex has taken place in the preceding 7 days there is a risk of pregnancy.
  • If you are attending for a replacement coil and your coil change is overdue you are advised to use an alternative form of contraception e.g. condoms. In some cases a negative pregnancy test, after at least 3 weeks of contraception/abstinence, may be required before the coil can be changed.
  • Unless replacement is with a copper coil, extra precautions such as condoms or abstinence from sex will be needed for 7 days after the procedure.

Risk of infection / Infection screening:

  • If there is infection present in genital tract at the time of coil insertion, fitting a coil can make the infection more serious. Swabs are offered routinely to all patients before a coil fit. Unless you consider yourself low risk for sexually transmitted infections it is a good idea to arrange swabs at least 2 weeks prior to a coil fit, these can be taken by yourself at home and the reception team can put you in touch with the correct person about this. Swabs would be recommended for anyone with symptoms of infection (though infection may be present without symptoms) and for anyone who has had a change of sexual partner within the last few years.

Pain relief

  • During coil insertions some women experience discomfort, like period cramps. You may wish to take painkillers an hour before the procedure to reduce this.

After your coil fitting

  • Use additional contraception for 7 days unless the doctor who fits your coil advises
  • otherwise.
  • You may experience light bleeding or cramping, if the pain is more uncomfortable than a period talk to a doctor.
  • Book in for a coil check appointment with a GP 6 weeks after your coil fit if you are unable to locate the threads of your coil yourself or there are any concerns.
  • Avoid tampons for the first 3 cycles after coil insertion (to reduce the risk of expulsion).

More information

More information about coils:

More information about general contraceptive choices: