Intrauterine devices, or IUDs as they are commonly known, have been all over social media and news websites in recent days.

But why? And what actually are they?

For the uninitiated, an IUD is a long-term contraceptive device made of plastic and copper that is inserted into the womb.

It can last between five to 10 years, and is offered on the NHS. 

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This week, Times columnist Caitlin Moran wrote about her own experiences with the contraceptive device, and called for more pain relief options for women who undergo the invasive procedure.

Sharing her piece on Twitter, she wrote: "Why are women not offered pain relief for removal and insertion of IUDs? It can be AGONY. If it involves the prostate or the colon, you get sedatives, or gas and air."

Her column sparked discussion online among women who had gone through the procedure - and those who were considering it.

BBC presenter Naga Munchetty also recounted her experience getting an IUD fitted, saying: “My screams were so loud that my husband tried to find out what room I was in to make it stop".

Yesterday the IUD made international headlines after Britney spears spoke of her own experience with the contraceptive.

The singer alleged she was not allowed to have her IUD removed to enable her to have a baby, because the people who controlled her affairs - her conservatorship - would not allow her to do so.

How does an IUD work?

The T-shaped device is over 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy.

It works by releasing copper in the womb.

It differs from an IUS (Intrauterine system), a similar contraceptive option, which instead releases the hormone progestogen into the womb, thickening the cervical mucus.

Have you got an IUD or IUS? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments, or email