An intrauterine device (IUD) is an effective and convenient birth control method that many women rely on to prevent pregnancy. This small T-shaped device is inserted into the uterus and may contain copper or hormones to stop unwanted pregnancies from occurring. They can provide protection for many years if they are inserted and cared for properly. However, for the best IUD insertion aftercare experience, it is essential to understand how your device works and how to care for your body following the insertion.
How Do IUDs Function?
IUDs work by changing the way that sperm cells move and stopping them from reaching an egg. Some IUDs are made of copper, which has the effect of deterring sperm, while others contain hormones that work to prevent pregnancy in similar ways to other forms of hormonal birth control. Your IUD will have plastic strings tied to the end that hang down through the cervix and into your vagina.
Your IUD is inserted into your uterus in a procedure that can take place at any time, as long as you are not pregnant and do not have a pelvic infection. It takes just a few minutes, and although it may be slightly painful, the pain should not last for long. You may consider asking someone to drive you to your insertion appointment, and plan to have some time to relax afterward as your body adjusts to the device.
IUD Insertion Aftercare At Home
After the procedure, you may experience light bleeding and mild cramping. This can last for a variable amount of time but typically gradually improves over the first few days to weeks.. This is completely normal and not cause for alarm.
Managing Pain And Discomfort
Doctors recommend using a heating pad or hot water bottle to ease discomfort during this time.
If you need help managing the pain, you can use over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen, being sure to follow the dosing instructions on the label. It is not advisable to take more than one type of pain medication at the same time.
Checking Your IUD<
The strings that hang down from your IUD can be used to provide reassurance that it is placed correctly. Your doctor may have shown you how to do this during your insertion appointment. It involves inserting a finger into your vagina and finding your cervix, which sits at the top and feels harder than the surrounding area.
You should be able to feel thin plastic strings coming out of the opening of the cervix. If not, it is essential to use another type of birth control until you can see your doctor to have the IUD checked. Although your IUD is unlikely to slip out of place if it was inserted correctly, you should continue to check for the strings regularly.
If your IUD falls out, save it and call your doctor. You will not be protected from unwanted pregnancy until it is replaced. It is a good idea to check your pads, tampons, or menstrual cup each month to ensure it has not fallen out during menstruation.
Protect Yourself From Sexually Transmitted Infections
Although IUDs are a highly effective form of birth control, they do not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STI). Therefore, you should use a latex condom when you are having sex with a partner if you are unsure about their STI status.
When Should You Seek Medical Attention?
In the days after getting a new IUD, light bleeding, spotting, and cramping are normal. It is also possible that your first few menstrual cycles may be different; your bleeding could be heavier or lighter than usual depending on the type of IUD you have had inserted.
However, there are some cases where it is best to contact your doctor and await further instruction.
For example, if you have severe bleeding, which means soaking through a pad every hour for two or more hours, it could be a sign of an infection and requires immediate care. If your bleeding is accompanied by a foul odor, be sure to mention this to your doctor as well.
If you experience new pelvic pain or your pain is getting progressively worse and has exceeded the pain levels felt during insertion, you should call your doctor.
You should also seek care if you have a fever accompanied by vaginal discharge and/or pelvic pain or if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
If you experience any sort of emergency, it is best to call 911. For example, if you pass out or experience a sudden and severe pain in your pelvic area, seek help immediately.
Reach Out To The Women’s Healthcare Team For More Info On IUD Insertion Aftercare
If you have any questions or concerns about IUDs, reach out today to Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness. Our team of women’s healthcare professionals can advise you on all matters related to birth control and IUD insertion aftercare.