A doctor or nurse inserts the IUD into your uterus. Some people feel cramps or a little pain, but it doesn't last long and medicine can help.
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How is an IUD inserted?
First, your nurse or doctor will ask you some questions about your medical history. Then they’ll check your vagina, cervix, and uterus, and they may test you for STDs. You may be offered medicine to help open and/or numb your cervix before the IUD is inserted.
To put the IUD in, the nurse or doctor will insert a speculum in your vagina and then use a special inserter to put the IUD through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus. The process usually takes less than five minutes.
IUDs can be inserted at any time of the month, and you can usually get one inserted right after giving birth or having an abortion.
How does it feel to get an IUD inserted?
Most people get cramps or feel a little bit of pain when they're getting the IUD inserted, but many only have mild discomfort. The pain can be worse for some, but luckily it only lasts for a minute or two.
Some doctors tell you to take pain medicine before you get the IUD to help prevent cramps. They also might inject a local numbing medicine around your cervix to make it more comfortable.
Some people feel dizzy during or right after the insertion, and there's a small chance of fainting. You might want to ask someone to come with you to the appointment so you don't have to drive or go home alone, and to give yourself some time to relax afterward.
What can I expect after an IUD insertion procedure?
Many people feel perfectly fine right after they get an IUD, while others need to take it easy for a while. There can be some cramping and backaches, so plan on chilling at home after your appointment — it’s a great excuse to curl up on the couch with your favorite book or movie. Heating pads and over-the-counter pain meds can help ease cramps too.
You may have cramping and spotting after getting an IUD, but this almost always goes away within 3-6 months. Hormonal IUDs eventually make periods lighter and less crampy, and you might stop getting a period at all. On the flip side, copper IUDs may make periods heavier and cramps worse. For some people, this goes away over time. If your IUD is causing you pain, discomfort, or side effects you don’t like, call your doctor.
Once you get the IUD, a string about 1 or 2 inches long will come out of your cervix and into the top of your vagina; don’t worry, you won’t notice it. The string is there so a nurse or doctor can remove the IUD later. You can feel the string by putting your fingers in your vagina and reaching up toward your cervix. But DON’T tug on the string, because you could move your IUD out of place or pull it out.
There's a very small chance that your IUD could slip out of place. It can happen any time, but it's more common during the first 3 months. IUDs are most likely to come out during your period. Check your pads, tampons, or cups to see if it fell out. You can also check your string to make sure it’s still there. If your IUD falls out, you’re NOT protected from pregnancy, so make sure to go see your doctor, and use condoms or another kind of birth control in the meantime.
Remember when you got your IUD (or write it down somewhere), so you’ll know when it needs to be replaced. The ParaGard IUD should be replaced after 12 years. Mirena should be replaced after 6 years. Kyleena should be replaced after 5 years. Liletta should be replaced after 4 years. Skyla should be replaced after 3 years.
How soon after getting an IUD can I have sex?
You can have sex as soon as you want after getting an IUD.
You might need to use a backup method of birth control (like condoms) until the IUD starts to work — whether you're protected against pregnancy right away depends on what type of IUD you get and when it’s put in.
A ParaGard IUD prevents pregnancy as soon as it’s in place.
Hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla) only prevent pregnancy right away IF they’re put in during the first 7 days of your period. If you get a hormonal IUD any other time during your cycle, you’re protected after 7 days. In the meantime, use condoms or another kind of birth control to prevent pregnancy.