IUDs in COVID-19
During COVID-19 a lot of things are different. We’re getting tons of questions about IUDs, so here’s a quick guide to what PPT is doing about IUD care right now.
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Are you doing IUD insertions?
We had paused IUD insertions earlier during COVID and have now resumed insertions, but as a result of this there is a bit of a waitlist at this time. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, Ontario healthcare providers had been asked to delay non-essential, non-urgent medical care that can’t be done remotely until further notice.
At PPT we believe birth control is essential medical care and we want to help you access it. However, with every service we offer right now, we have to consider:
- How important is it that you get the service now rather than in a couple of months?
- How much risk of potentially spreading COVID-19 would there be in the process? (e.g. Do you need to leave home for an appointment? Do you need to be in close contact with a provider for a procedure?)
- How much can we lower the risks that exist? (e.g. Can we do some parts remotely? Do we have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to make in-person procedures as safe as possible?)
Just like when we navigate risk levels around sexual health, everybody involved has to figure out where their boundaries are. We’re paying attention to public health guidelines, expert opinions, and clinical best practices, and we’re adjusting our services as the situation unfolds. So your first appointment will be a consultation over the phone or video via a virtual visit, and your provider will discuss next steps with you there.
Services are changing all the time and some places may still offer insertions. If you’d like a referral to another provider who may be able to insert your IUD sooner, book a phone or video appointment with a clinician.
My IUD is expiring, do I have to remove it?
That depends: it’s not unsafe to keep an IUD in longer than its recommended time, it’s just potentially less effective at preventing pregnancy. And that doesn’t happen all at once the second it expires, it happens gradually over time.
- If you have a Mirena hormonal IUD and it’s been 5 years since you inserted it, the package says it’s expired, but there’s evidence that Mirena is effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 7 years.
- If you have a 5-year or 10-year copper IUD with 380mm2 of copper (e.g. Mona Lisa 5 & 10, Liberte UT380 & TT380), there’s evidence that it’s effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 12 years.
- If you have a 5-year copper IUD with less than 380mm2 of copper or a Kyleena or Jaydess hormonal IUD that’s passed its expiry date, it likely still provides some protection from pregnancy but we don’t know how much. Consider a back-up birth control method on top of your IUD, like condoms or a birth control pill, until you can get it replaced.
- If you’re not using the IUD for birth control right now (e.g. you’re not having sex that could result in a pregnancy or you’re using other methods like condoms to prevent pregnancy) you may not have to remove it.
- If you need to remove or replace your IUD, need a prescription for a back-up method, or are not sure if or when you need to remove or replace your IUD, book a phone or video appointment with a clinician to help figure it out.
Can I still get a prescription for an IUD?
Yes! Book a phone or video appointment with a PPT clinician to talk about a possible prescription. They can fax it to a pharmacy of your choice and you can pick it up there, have it delivered if your pharmacy offers delivery, or buy it from PPT if you prefer.
Can I buy an IUD at PPT?
Yes! If you have a prescription from a PPT clinician you (or a person you list on your file with us as having permission to pick up your prescription) can pick it up at the front desk. You/that person will be screened for possible symptoms of COVID-19 before entering the building.
Will you call me when I can get an IUD insertion?
Yes! If you’ve had a phone or video appointment with a PPT clinician to discuss your IUD options, they can put you on our waiting list for when we start booking insertions again.
How do I learn if an IUD is right for me?
- Check out our IUD factsheets: The Copper IUD, The Hormonal IUD (IUS)
- Book a phone or video appointment with a PPT clinician or our health services peer education program.
- Think about your timeline for birth control: an IUD might still be right for you eventually, but if you need something right away, consider if another method might work in the meantime. Check out our Birth Control Options factsheet for more info.
IUDs and uncertain times: what if I can’t get my birth control next month?
IUDs are a great option for lots of people, and for some people they are especially appealing when the world feels unpredictable or frightening. That totally makes sense. If you’re worried, for example, that you might not be able to get to a pharmacy next month, or afford your birth control pills the month after that, a method you don’t have to do anything about for years sounds great. And sometimes when a lot of things feel out of our control we really want the feeling of being in control of our fertility that a highly effective IUD can give us. So getting an IUD might feel especially important or urgent because there’s a pandemic.
We agree that it would be really helpful if everyone who wanted an IUD had one right now! But all the benefits of it being highly effective and around for years only happen after the risks of coming to the clinic and getting the insertion, and now’s just not the ideal time for that part.
And if you ever can’t afford your birth control, PPT can usually offer it for free or at reduced cost. Talk to the clinician who prescribes it for you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we have supports for that:
Check out our list of COVID-19 specific resources in Toronto, or book a phone or video appointment for case coordination (help with practical life resources like housing, employment, or financial aid) or counselling services.