Pain after sex with an IUD (intrauterine device) is not common. It’s important to find out why you may be experiencing this pain and if it is safe to continue having sex.
Cramping is normal after an IUD insertion, but make sure you check the strings with your fingers to ensure they are still in place. Over-the-counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help with the cramping.
What is an IUD?
An IUD is a type of birth control that can prevent pregnancy for three to 10 years. It is safe and effective, and many women report that it feels more natural than other birth control methods. It can cause some cramping and backaches, and over-the-counter pain relievers usually help. If you want to get an IUD, talk with your healthcare provider about whether it is a good choice for you.
Most IUDs are made of copper or the hormone levonorgestrel. They are small, plastic frames that open into the shape of a “T” once inside your uterus. They have strings attached to the bottom, which allow your provider or you to check that it is in the right place. They also let you know when it’s time to change the IUD.
The IUD insertion process is short and relatively easy. Your healthcare provider will clean your cervix and vagina with an antiseptic liquid. Then they’ll slide a tool with the IUD attached through your vagina and into your uterus. They’ll then push the IUD into place by sliding a button on the tool. Once the IUD is in the right spot, it will have its arms fold up and out of the tube.
You can have an IUD inserted at any point in your menstrual cycle, but it is usually easier to insert it during your period, when your cervix is most open. Some women experience discomfort or pressure during insertion, but most report that it’s not very painful.
Cramps during and right after the insertion of an IUD are common, though they vary in intensity from woman to woman. They’re caused by your uterus contracting as the device is inserted, and they usually go away with time. The pain or cramps could also be a sign that the IUD isn’t in the right place, so if your symptoms are severe or persist for 3 months or more, get checked out by a doctor.
If you want to reduce the amount of pain and cramping, talk to your doctor about scheduling your IUD insertion while you’re on your period. It’s believed that a softer, more relaxed, and open cervix coupled with the fact that the uterus is sitting lower in your body during this time will make for less discomfort. You can also ask about getting an at-home TENS machine, which delivers small electric currents to the skin that block pain signals from reaching your brain.
While IUD cramps can feel like regular monthly period pain, they tend to be less intense and go away over time as your uterus gets used to the device. Over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve the discomfort. Other home remedies that can ease cramping from an IUD include eating a healthy diet, taking magnesium and vitamin B-6 supplements, practicing yoga, acupuncture, and heating pads or hot water bottles applied to the area.
If you have an IUD and you’re experiencing pain during sex, it may be a sign that it’s moved. While it is normal to experience discomfort during sex, pain could mean that the IUD is in a position where it shouldn’t be (like chilling in your cervix) which could cause some serious problems.
If your IUD is shifted, you’ll need to contact your doctor right away. They’ll check the strings to see if they’re in the right place. They’ll also make sure the IUD isn’t embedded or perforated (which can happen if it moves).
Your doctor will use a tool called a speculum to open your vagina. They’ll also use another tool to stabilize your cervix before they insert the IUD. This can cause some cramping, so you might want to take ibuprofen before your appointment.
You should also contact your doctor if you can’t feel the strings at all or if they seem shorter or longer than usual. Other symptoms that your IUD has moved include abnormal vaginal discharge, excessive bleeding during your periods or spotting between them, and pelvic pain. In rare cases, an IUD can move so far that it becomes visible in your underwear. This is called a subcutaneous IUD migration and is only possible with certain types of IUDs. It’s unlikely that you’ll get this complication, but it is worth discussing with your doctor.
Whether you have a copper or hormonal IUD, when it is time to remove it (either because your period ended, you got pregnant or you no longer want it in place), your health care provider will likely use the same procedure. You may experience cramping for a few hours or days following IUD removal, and some bleeding is normal. Your doctor will give you some over-the-counter pain relievers to help with this.
You can have your IUD removed at any time, but it might be easier to get it out when you’re on your period because the bottom part of your uterus that opens into the vagina (your cervix) widens during this time. During the IUD removal, your health care provider will use tools to grasp the strings of your IUD and pull it out. This process is usually very quick and is less painful than the IUD insertion.
You can get a new IUD or have your old one removed at any Planned Parenthood health center, no matter what type of insurance you have. Most Planned Parenthood health centers accept Medicaid and charge lower costs for people who are poor or have no insurance at all. Find a health center near you and call to make an appointment for IUD removal. You may need to bring your ID and proof of income to your appointment.