The contraceptive coil, normally referred to as the ‘coil’, is a long-term method of contraception. It’s effectiveness in preventing pregnancy is proven. It is so effective that it can also be used as an emergency contraceptive, up to five days after unprotected intercourse.
The coil is normally inserted inside the womb by a competent healthcare provider. Once inserted, you do not need to remember anything till its expiry date. Removal is a simple procedure, and resumption of potential to conceive is immediate.
There are many misconceptions about the coil. Most of them are pure ignorance, and have no tangible basis. A common misconception is interference with sexual activities. Once the coil is inserted, the threads that are subsequently used to facilitate removal are trimmed quite short. They tend to coil behind the neck of the womb and tend to mimic the cervix over time so your partner is unlikely to feel the threads during sex, or to displace the coil to an abnormal position.
Some women fear the use of tampons whilst having the coil. There is some fear about getting the coil threads entangled with the tampon, and accidentally pulling it out when removing a used tampon. Whilst this is a theoretical possibility, it is a very unlikely scenario. A properly fitted coil, with the threads appropriately trimmed, will not get pulled out with a tampon. In actual fact, self-removal of a well-placed coil would be quite a challenging undertaking.
What about heavy periods? Whilst there are reports about women noticing heavier periods after a coil insertion, this isn’t universal. If your periods are increasingly heavier, an alternate cause should always be sought for.
Others think that coils are common causes of vaginal infections. Nothing could be further from reality. Some women will notice increased vaginal secretions whilst using the coil. This isn’t an infection, but a transient benign effect of a foreign body within the reproductive system. You should, however, not hesitate to get an unusual vaginal discharge checked out. There will be a multitude of other misconceptions. Some think young women should never use coils, not true. Others think coils are a cause of infertility, which is not true. Yet others think coils will cause gynaecological cancers, this is also a lie. If you have unclear misconceptions about the coil, please get clarifications with your healthcare provider.
Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. [email protected]