The IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small, flexible, T-shaped device inserted into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are one of the most effective long-term birth control methods available, and have also become one of the most popular in recent years.
Women who choose the IUD as a contraceptive solution enjoy many advantages, including years of protection, 99% effectiveness, convenience, and sometimes lighter or even completely stopped periods. If you’re considering making the switch to one of these devices but nervous about what to expect, don’t worry. The South Avenue Women’s team is here to answer your questions and ease your mind about IUD implantation!
Preparing for an IUD
Before you schedule an appointment for your IUD, it’s important to discuss with your doctor whether or not this method of birth control is right for you. While most women will benefit from an IUD, women with certain health issues—such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, cervical or other types of cancer, STDs, pelvic issues, etc.—may be safer or better off using other forms of contraception.
Your doctor will also ask you questions about your medical history and what you’re looking for in a birth control method, in order to help determine which type of IUD will best fit your needs. There are two different types of IUDs: copper and hormonal.
When you go to your IUD appointment, your doctor will begin by explaining the procedure to you and addressing any questions or concerns. Then, they will start the insertion process with a bimanual pelvic exam, to help them determine the best placement for your device based on your uterus positioning. Depending on where you are in your cycle, they may also perform a pregnancy test.
Following the exam, your doctor will use a speculum to open your vagina and then disinfect the cervix with antiseptic. A small instrument will be used to measure your uterus and cervical canal, to guide them on the best depth and angle for IUD placement. Finally, your doctor will use a special inserter to place the IUD in your uterus through the cervix.
What does IUD insertion feel like?
Although the process is quick (usually no more than five minutes), many women do experience some pain, cramping, and/or discomfort. You may be instructed to take over-the-counter pain medication before your appointment to help with this. You may also feel dizzy immediately after insertion and, rarely, some women faint.
Just in case you do experience more intense side effects, it’s a good idea to bring a trusted friend or family member with you to drive you home from your appointment.
After IUD Insertion
In the first few days after your IUD is implanted, you may experience cramping, spotting, and other common period symptoms. These are all normal and should go away shortly. If you’re experiencing more severe symptoms, you should call your doctor right away. Severe symptoms include:
- Prolonged, unusually heavy bleeding
- Sharp abdominal pain
- Intense cramping
- Pain during intercourse
- Severe headaches
You should also note that your IUD will be inserted with a one to two-inch string attached, which will hang out of your cervix into the top of your vagina. More than likely, you won’t notice it, but you may be able to feel it with your fingers. If the string causes irritation or your partner can feel it during sex, you can have it trimmed by your doctor.
How soon can I have sex after getting an IUD?
Technically speaking, you’re safe to have sex as soon as you feel comfortable after IUD insertion. However, depending on the type you get, you may need to use backup protection for the first seven days.
Copper IUDs are effectively immediately. Hormonal IUDs may take up to a week to be fully effective (unless inserted while you’re on your period), and should be used with another contraceptive during this time.
If you’re interested in switching to an IUD, or would like to discuss it further with a medical provider, visit South Avenue Women’s Services in Rochester, NY.
We offer our patients a wide range of birth control options, as well as the medical expertise you need to help you make the right choice. Contact us today to learn more about intrauterine contraception!