The Intrauterine Contraceptive Coil, (IUCD) more commonly known as the coil, is a form of contraception which involves inserting a device into the entrance of the womb via the cervix. According to the medics, using the coil removes the need for taking a pill everyday and is suitable for those who want longer term contraception.
Modern coils are designed to have a life span of a maximum of eight years, though it is common to have them changed every five years subject to any problems arising in the meantime. The coil has been shown to be at least 98% effective. It has therefore always been seen as a safe and easy option for women to prevent pregnancy.
The Coil however carries risks. There is a small risk of infection occurring within 20 days however this is very small and can be treated with antibiotics. Some women do experience some pain and irregular bleeding but this should be monitored to make sure patient safety.
Unfortunately, my client suffered just these symptoms and was left to carry on as normal. She was told that her symptoms were fine for two years until after two years, more pain and continuous visits to her GP, her symptoms became worse and she started having bowel troubles as well. Eventually she was referred for a scan at her local hospital.
The scan showed that the coil had been inserted in the incorrect position so that not only was it not protecting her from pregnancy but it was causing her ovary to balloon. They were unsure what was causing the ovary to look enlarged on the scan but she was advised to have the Coil removed.
My client immediately went back to her GP where it took two nurses to remove the coil because it was in such a strange position. However, as soon as the coil was removed she started to feel extremely ill so much so that she was rushed into the Accident and Emergency unit. There she was investigated by doctors and diagnosed as having a 7 inch wide abscess as a result of an infection caused by the coil.
The extent of the infection meant that her ovary and her fallopian tube had to be removed to prevent the spread of the infection and save her life. Due to gynecological complications previously suffered by my client, she only had part of her fallopian tube left and consequently this operation left her unable to have further children.
The knowledge that she is now infertile and the trauma she suffered in undergoing surgery and during her recovery period were extremely difficult for my client and she is left wondering how the situation was left to get so far. Despite continual complaints to her GP, her coil was left in situ for over two years and eventually caused the removal of the remainder of her reproductive system. Having recently entered a new relationship, this is devastating for this young woman in her 30s.
Although women have long been told that coils are safe and that harm is extremely rare, it is clear that GPS need to be vigilant. Many women say that they have experienced a lack of empathy and interest from their GPs about contraceptive methods but this case shows the danger of GPs not being vigilant in monitoring contraceptive medication/ procedures.
I have been made aware that there may be more women who have experienced problems with their contraceptive treatment including the Coil and the Contraceptive Injection, whether this is a result of a failure to appropriately administer the contraceptive or a failure to follow-up your concerning symptoms, please contact Emma Doughty at Slater and Gordon LLP who will be pleased to help. Likewise, if you have any concerns about treatment you have received regarding gynecological issues, please do contact me or one of the other members of the Clinical Negligence team .
Solicitor, Clinical Negligence
Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP