In need of emergency contraception after a sexy time “accident”? If, for whatever reason, you’d rather not take the morning-after pill, there’s an alternative: have a doctor insert an intrauterine contraceptive device with copper (copper IUCD) into you.

We got Dr Watt Wing Fong, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital, to tell us more about the device.

The copper IUCD is a form of birth control

First things first: the copper IUCD has to be put in place within five days of the accident in order for it to have a chance at preventing pregnancy. It works by preventing implantation of the fertilised embryo.

And as its name implies, the IUCD is a birth control method. It typically lasts three to five years and can be removed at any time, so it makes a lot more sense for it to be used as emergency contraception if you don’t plan on having a child anytime soon. Insertion can be done at a clinic.

“There might be some discomfort during the process, but you can take painkillers an hour before,” says Dr Watt.

“A speculum is inserted into the vagina to allow visualisation of the cervix. The vagina is then cleaned with an antiseptic solution and an instrument called the tenaculum is used to hold the cervix to stabilise it.”

He explains that another instrument called the uterine sound is inserted into the uterus to determine the direction and length of the cervical canal and uterus before the copper IUCD is put in.

Just like with Plan B, there might be side effects

According to him, the immediate side effects of inserting a copper IUCD include cramps and light bleeding, though the cramps will usually subside after a couple of hours.

He also points out that while its effectiveness against pregnancy is about 98 percent, in the two percent chance of pregnancy, there is a slightly higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy.

“Subsequent side effects include heavier menstrual flow for future menstrual cycles. The menses may last longer and there may be more cramping. However, most women are able to tolerate the discomfort,” says Dr Watt.

And because there’s a risk of displacement of the IUCD, it’s important that you return to the doctor for a checkup a couple of months later following the insertion.

Whichever option you choose to go with, remember that it’s best to be safe than sorry.