IUDs are one of the most popular forms of birth control in the United States. Their convenience, safety, and reliability are the main reasons why they are so popular. Before having an IUD inserted, however, you should discuss it in detail with your doctor. Your doctor will help you decide which type of device is likely to work best for you, explain the insertion procedure and how to prepare for it.
After the IUD is inserted, you are likely to experience mild side effects as your body becomes accustomed to the device. This is true whether you have an IUD that releases small doses of the progestin hormone into your system for a few years, or whether you have the non-hormonal, copper IUD. No matter which type of IUD you have, make sure you discuss with your doctor what you can expect and what to do if you have questions about anything.
After Your IUD Is Inserted
Immediately after your IUD is inserted, be careful standing up from the examination table. You might feel dizzy or faint if you immediately try to stand up. Your doctor will likely ask you to remain lying down for a couple of minutes and when you feel well enough to stand, to slowly stand up.
You will need to wait up to 7 days before having sex or inserting anything, including a tampon or douche, into your vagina. After that initial time period has passed, you can have sex again.
The copper IUD, also called ParaGard, starts to work immediately, no matter when you get it during your menstrual cycle. However, hormonal IUDs (Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla) are not effective for seven days unless you have one inserted during your period. For that reason, you will need to use another form of contraception to prevent pregnancy. If you have a hormonal IUD inserted during your menstrual period, it becomes effective immediately.
Regardless of the type of IUD you have, it will not prevent STDs. To protect yourself against contracting an STD from a sexual partner, you must use a condom even though you have an IUD.
Common Side Effects of an IUD
You should expect certain mild, side effects for a few months after your IUD is inserted. Some of the symptoms to look for include:
Mild Spotting and Cramping for the First Three to Six Months
Many women have some cramping and spotting for three to six months after the IUD is placed. You can relieve your discomfort by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You can also try placing a heating pad or hot water bottle on your belly.
Heavier Than Usual Periods for a Few Months
After getting an IUD, women often experience heavier than usual periods for the first three months or so. This is especially true for women who have the copper IUD. After that, your periods should return to what is normal for you.
Other Side Effects Commonly Experienced after Getting a Copper IUD
Aside from longer, heavier periods and mild abdominal pain and cramping, other side effects of the copper IUD can include:
- Irregular periods
- Spotting between periods
Other Side Effects Common from the Hormonal IUD
With a hormonal IUD, you may experience other side effects. Common menstrual cycle changes include lightening or even stopping of your period. Systemic side effects are rare but can include headaches, bloating, nausea, breast tenderness, moodiness, low libido, and weight gain. Not everyone experiences these side effects, and they may subside after a few months.
When to Call Your Doctor
There are some things you should watch out for. As noted earlier, if you notice that your strings are out of place or your IUD may have moved, your doctor will need to examine you and possibly remove or replace your IUD. Also, if you think you might be pregnant, your IUD must be removed. Other things that require your doctor’s attention include:
- Significantly heavier than normal bleeding from your vagina
- Chills or a fever over 101 degrees, indicating a possible infection
- Dizziness or fainting
- Sharp pain in your belly or pelvis
- Foul-smelling discharge from your vagina
- Severe headaches or migraines
- Pain during sex
Check for the Strings Periodically
During the first 3 months after you get an IUD, you should make sure that you can still feel the string coming out of your cervix. Do this by inserting a finger into your vagina. You will want to make sure the string is hanging 1-2 inches from the cervix. If can’t feel your strings or if you notice the string feels shorter or longer than usual, the IUD may have moved. You need to have your doctor examine it and make sure it is still well-positioned. You should use a condom or other birth control method to prevent pregnancy until you are seen by your doctor.
Consult with the Gynecology Experts at Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness
At Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness, the doctors and professional staff are available to answer all of your questions about IUDs. With their help, you can be confident that you have the best advice available on how to select the right IUD for your health profile. Contact the experts at Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness for more information and to schedule an appointment.