Do coils cause UTIs?

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  • You asked and Dr Vincent Karuhanga is here to respond to all your health questions.

Since my coil was inserted, I have been getting constant Urinary Tract Infections to the extent that a nurse has advised me to have it removed. Does a coil cause UTIs?
Georgina

Dear Georgina,
What you call a coil is an intrauterine device (IUD) used to prevent pregnancy and in Uganda a copper T which is a small “T” shaped plastic with copper is commonly used. The other IUDs have hormones but these are less commonly used in Uganda. A Urinary tract Infection may affect the urethra, urinary bladder, ureters and kidneys and this cannot be caused by an intrauterine device.

If one gets infections due to having an IUD, it should affect the vagina, womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries in what is called a Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).
IUDs were disliked in the 1970s when a poorly designed Dalkon Shield IUD caused infections in the uterus and fallopian tubes apart from injuries and failing to prevent pregnancies.

Today’s IUDs are much better designed with plastic instead of braided strings, making them safer though they may have a few other side effects that are tolerable (spotting between periods or mild cramping in the first few months after insertion).
Because of the spotting, it has been theorised that this may destabilise the normal vaginal bacteria leading to bacterial vaginosis infection. Because IUDs are safer, act longest, protect against pregnancy best (next to tubal ligation) and one gets pregnant immediately it is removed, they are now being used more often.

The usual copper T does not protect against STDS, and usually many women are not checked for infections before inserting the IUDs since most of them come when they are in periods before the IUD is inserted to prevent insertion, while a woman is pregnant already. Many Ugandan women are wary of pregnancy more than infections so that when they are on the IUD, they feel free to play sex with anybody while not protecting themselves from STDs.

That said, the vagina normally contains some bacteria which may be pushed into the uterus during the insertion of the IUD .
However, this happens rarely. You need to visit a family planning clinic to advise you more about family planning because removing the IUD now may risk you getting pregnant.
Also, the clinic will advise you on how to prevent UTIs which in women are fuelled by the anal bacteria being in the vicinity, not taking enough fluids and holding urine more than necessary.

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