Expected Symptoms after an IUD Placement
An IUD(Intrauterine Device) is a small, T-shaped device made of plastic or copper that is inserted through the cervix and placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is popular due to its high efficacy and longevity. The hormonal and nonhormonal IUDs use different mechanisms to prevent pregnancy. A hormonal IUD releases progesterone, which thickens cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching an egg. A copper IUD changes the cervical mucus and inhibits sperm motility, making it difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg.
Although the IUD is a relatively painless and straightforward procedure, it is vital to understand the expected symptoms and how to manage them. Here is what to expect after an IUD placement:
Cramping is one of the most common side effects experienced after IUD placement. The strength and duration of the cramps vary with the individual. Most women report mild to moderate cramping for the first few days after the procedure, which gradually subsides. Few women may experience severe cramps that may last for a couple of weeks.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are recommended to manage cramps. Heating pads, hot water bottles, and warm baths may also provide relief.
Some women experience light to moderate bleeding after IUD placement. The bleeding may range from a few spots to light bleeding similar to a period. The bleeding may last for a few days or a couple of weeks, varying with the type of IUD and individual.
Using sanitary pads instead of tampons may be more comfortable and advisable to avoid the risk of the IUD string getting tangled in the tampon. If the bleeding is heavy and prolonged, it is essential to contact a medical practitioner.
IUD expulsion occurs when the device comes out of the uterus partially or completely. The risk of expulsion is higher in the first few months after insertion. Higher chances of expulsion may occur in women who have never given birth before.
Watch for signs of IUD expulsion, such as pain during sex or movement, the sensation of the string, or the device coming out. It is essential to contact a medical practitioner immediately after sensing any such signs.
Women may notice an increase in vaginal discharge after IUD placement. The discharge may be light to moderate and may persist for several weeks to a few months. Pay attention to any foul, fishy odor or abnormal characteristics, as it may indicate an infection or another issue that requires medical attention.
Changes in Menstruation
Most women experience slight changes in their menstrual cycle after IUD placement, especially with hormonal IUDs. The hormonal IUDs may lead to lighter or no periods in some women or may lead to irregular spotting. In contrast, non-hormonal IUDs cause heavier and crampier periods.
It is advisable to keep track of your menstrual cycle for the initial few weeks following IUD insertion. If you experience any changes or alarming symptoms, contact your health care provider.
Other symptoms that may be experienced after IUD placement include nausea, headaches, mood swings, and backaches. In rare cases, it may lead to infection, perforation, or other severe complications. It is advisable to contact a medical practitioner in case of persistent and severe symptoms.
What to expect during IUD placement?
IUD placement is generally a fast and painless procedure that takes about five to ten minutes. Before the procedure, you may be given pain-relieving medication to ease the pain during insertion. Here is what you can expect during IUD placement:
Your doctor will start with a physical examination of your cervix to determine its position, size, and shape. It is crucial to ensure that the cervix is healthy and free from infections, inflammation, or other anomalies.
Insertion of IUD
Your doctor will insert the IUD through your vagina and cervix into your uterus. You may feel a brief, sharp pain or cramping during insertion, which should subside quickly. It is advisable to take deep breaths and relax your muscles to minimize the discomfort.
Confirmation of Placement
After insertion, your doctor will verify that the device is correctly placed inside the uterus. You may experience mild cramping or spotting after IUD placement, which should subside gradually.
Precautions after IUD placement
After IUD placement, it is advisable to follow a few precautions to ensure that the device functions correctly and to minimize the risk of infection or other complications.
Check the strings
It is essential to check IUD strings regularly to ensure that the device is in place. The strings hang through the cervix into the vagina, allowing you to feel them with your fingers. Checking the strings monthly can help you determine if the IUD has moved or expelled.
Use backup contraception
It takes a few days to a couple of weeks for the IUD to start working effectively. Use additional contraception, such as condoms or spermicidal products, during this period to prevent pregnancy.
Be cautious during sexual activity
Be careful during sexual intercourse to avoid dislodging the IUD. A misplaced or shifted IUD may cause several complications, such as expulsion or puncturing of the uterus, requiring immediate medical attention.
Be cautious during exercise
Refrain from strenuous activities or exercise for the first few days following IUD placement. Activities such as heavy lifting, running, or jumping may increase the risk of IUD shifting or expulsion.
Attend Follow-up Appointments
Schedule follow-up appointments with your medical practitioner to ensure that the IUD is correctly placed and functioning correctly. It is advisable to see them after one month of IUD placement and then every six months thereafter.
IUD placement is a simple and effective method of birth control, which offers long-term protection without requiring daily attention. As with any medical procedure, it is essential to understand the expected symptoms and take necessary precautions to ensure proper functioning of the device. Contact your medical practitioner promptly in case of persistent or severe symptoms or for more information about the device.
List of FAQs
- 1. Can I exercise after IUD placement?
- Most doctors recommend refraining from strenuous activities or exercise for the first few days after placement. After that, you can resume your activities but should avoid activities that involve heavy lifting or intense workouts.
- 2. Can I feel my IUD?
- You may feel the strings of the device hanging through the cervix, allowing you to check the placement and functioning of the device. It is normal and not a cause for concern.
- 3. How long does it take for the IUD to start working?
- It takes a few days to a couple of weeks for the IUD to start working effectively. Use additional contraception, such as condoms or spermicidal products, during this period to prevent pregnancy.
- 4. How long does the IUD last?
- The IUD offers long-term protection for three to twelve years, depending on the type of device. Consult your medical practitioner to choose the appropriate device for your individual needs.
- 5. How often should I check the strings?
- Checking the strings monthly can help you determine if the IUD has moved or expelled. If you sense any abnormalities or changes, contact your doctor immediately,
1. “Intrauterine Device”. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/intrauterine-device/about/pac-20394910
2. “IUD (Intrauterine Device) Placement – Things to Know”. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control/iud-insertion
3. “IUD: Placement and Removal”. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/iud-placement-and-removal
4. “Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)”. Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud