If you are sexually active but not ready to start a family, there are numerous options for birth control. One of the most effective is an intrauterine device (IUD) that is placed inside the uterus in a quick procedure done in your doctor’s office or at a clinic. Once inserted, an IUD can protect you against pregnancy for as long as 10 years, depending on the type of device used.
However, before you choose IUD insertion, there are a number of things you should be aware of. Here are some general guidelines.
15 Things You May Not Know About IUD Insertion
- You should eat a light meal or snack prior to your IUD insertion to prevent dizziness. You should also drink some water, as you may need to provide a urine sample to confirm that you’re not pregnant before the IUD is inserted.
- You may want to ask your doctor whether you should take a pain reliever before your appointment, which may help prevent cramping during the procedure.
- During the procedure, you will lie on an exam table with your legs up, and your doctor will gently insert a speculum into the vagina to widen it. This will enable your doctor to check the size and position of your uterus, as well as clean your cervix and vagina with an antiseptic, check for any problems, and line it up with the cervix.
- An IUD is shaped like the letter T with one arm on either side. Your doctor will fold the arms and place the device into an applicator tube, which will then be inserted through the cervix and into your uterus. Once in place, the arms of the IUD will be released, and the applicator tube will be removed. The IUD will have a short string at the bottom that will hang down into your cervix and vagina, so the IUD can eventually be removed.
- The IUD insertion procedure takes approximately five to 15 minutes. However, you should stay at the doctor’s office for a few minutes after it is done to make sure you are feeling alright.
- Although the procedure may be a bit uncomfortable, it shouldn’t hurt. You may experience some cramping, as the IUD is inserted and possibly lightheaded when you stand up afterward. To help avoid dizziness, remain in a reclining position until you feel well enough to stand, then rise slowly.
- If you are nervous about the procedure, your doctor may provide anti-anxiety medication or anesthesia.
- If you experience moderate to severe discomfort as a result of the procedure, painkillers such as lidocaine spray or gel or oral medication such as tramadol or naproxen can provide relief.
- Irregular bleeding or spotting is common for a few months following IUD insertion. However, if the bleeding doesn’t get lighter over time or is excessive, or if you have painful cramps, call your doctor.
- If you have a copper IUD (ParaGard) inserted, your periods may be heavier than usual for several months.
- A copper IUD will start to work immediately, but hormonal IUDs may take about seven days to start being effective unless inserted during your period.
- You’ll need to wait at least 24 hours after your procedure to have sex. Also, do not insert anything, such as a tampon or douche, into your vagina.
- Once a month for the first three months after your procedure, you should check the string coming out of your cervix. First, wash your hands, then insert a finger into your vagina. The string should extend 1-2 inches from your cervix. If it feels shorter or longer than usual, it could mean the IUD has moved. If so, call your doctor and, in the meantime, use another backup birth control method to prevent pregnancy.
- Hormonal IUDs work for three to six years, while copper IUDs protect against pregnancy for up to 10 years.
- You should call your doctor after IUD insertion if:
- You have pain during sex
- You have sharp pain in the pelvic or abdominal area
- You feel faint or dizzy
- You have chills or a high fever
- You have severe headaches
- You have heavier than usual vaginal bleeding
- The IUD has moved out of place
- You suspect you might be pregnant
IUD Insertion in DeKalb and Kendall County, Illinois
At Aishling Obstetrics & Gynecology, we’ve been taking care of women’s health care needs in all stages of life for many years – that includes providing comprehensive OB/GYN services such as safe and relatively painless IUD insertion.