If you are considering using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control, you are in good company. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in ten American women ages 15 to 49 use long-acting reversible contraception like an IUD.
These small, T-shaped pieces of copper or plastic are inserted into your uterus and are very effective at preventing pregnancy. Once in position, they can protect against pregnancy for as many as 12 years depending on the type and brand. They are considered a ‘set it and forget it‘ type of birth control, once you have gotten through the insertion process. This is a relatively straightforward procedure, but is important to understand what it entails and how you can prepare for it.
Here is a look at what you should avoid doing before your insertion and how you can prepare for your appointment.
Do Not Fast
You may feel too nervous to eat ahead of your insertion, but showing up for your appointment with an empty stomach is not a good idea. Doctors recommend eating a snack or a light meal before your insertion because some women feel dizzy during the procedure and pass out. Although this is unlikely, it is best to not be hungry when it is time for insertion. However, you should avoid eating so much that you feel uncomfortably full.
It is also a good idea to drink plenty of water. In addition to being hydrated, your doctor may request a urine sample to make sure you are not pregnant before inserting your IUD.
Do Not Make Plans for Immediately Afterward
An IUD insertion is a very quick and easy procedure, but you may experience some cramping, light bleeding, or dizziness afterward. Therefore, it is best to plan to go home after your appointment, wear comfortable clothes, and relax for the rest of the day as your body adjusts to the IUD. You will also want to look out for any signs of infection. These include a foul-smelling vaginal discharge, painful urination, fever, and lower abdominal pain.
Do Not Throw Away Your Condoms
Getting an IUD can be very freeing for women who have been relying on condoms as their main method of preventing pregnancy. However, there are two big reasons you should resist the temptation to throw them away before your insertion appointment.
The first is the fact that, depending on what type of IUD you are having inserted and what point you are at in your menstrual cycle, you may not be have immediate protection against pregnancy.
While copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs that are inserted within the first seven days of the start of your period do offer immediate protection, hormonal IUDs that are placed at other times during the cycle will not take effect right away. Your doctor will advise you on how long to wait to have unprotected sex after insertion. This may be one or two weeks.
It is also important to keep in mind that IUDs do not offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Despite their impressive efficacy rate when it comes to stopping pregnancy, they offer zero protection when it comes to STDs. This means that if you are unsure of your partner’s health status, you will want to continue to use condoms to avoid contracting or spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
Do Not Panic
Most women report that they experience cramping during their IUD insertion, while others find it to be very uncomfortable. Doctors note that women who are more relaxed during the procedure tend to experience less discomfort, so avoid panicking. Some doctors may allow you to bring a friend or partner along for support or listen to music through headphones during the procedure to help you relax.
Many doctors advise patients to take an over-the-counter painkiller such as ibuprofen about 30 minutes before their appointment. This helps ease any cramping that you may experience during or after the insertion. Ask your doctor beforehand what they recommend.
Schedule an Appointment With the Women’s Health-care Team
An IUD is a good choice for many women, offering long-term and hands-off protection from pregnancy for many years. To find out more about whether an IUD is right for you and how you can prepare for insertion, reach out to the women’s healthcare team at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness to schedule an appointment.