Thank you so much for asking about IUDs (Intrauterine devices). IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control on the market. There are now four different kinds of IUDs that you can choose from, each meant to fit different needs. These IUDs are Paragard (non-hormonal), Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta.
IUDs themselves don’t hurt while they are in place. This is a misconception. The only time a IUD user may feel any sort of pain would be during the insertion process which usually only takes a couple of minutes to complete. Most people obtaining an IUD say they feel minimal to moderate pain. There are many things that you can do to reduce any pain that you might feel. It is recommended to take 2 ibuprofen (Advil) before the procedure. Some doctors also tell their patients to schedule the appointment for during their period. The pain from insertion comes from opening the cervix for placement. While a person has their period, their cervix is already slightly opened which can aid in reducing any possible pain.
The pain (if any) usually does not last long. It can sometimes be followed by cramping which will go away within a few hours to days. I know that any sort of pain can feel very intimidating but think about the ease afterwards. Mirena can last up to 5 years and ParaGard can last up to 12 years. Having a long-lasting form of birth control can save you time, money, and mental space.
I hope that you will consider an IUD as your form of birth control.
If you ever have other questions about IUDs or other contraceptive options don’t hesitate to contact me at 617-496-2053.
Amanda Ayers, MPH
Thanks for the question! IUDs are awesome. They last anywhere from 3-12 years, can reduce or even eliminate periods, and are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Once they’re in, you can basically forget about it other than a quick monthly self-check to make sure it’s still in place.
BUT, it’s the classic question, how much do they hurt? IUDs are inserted (by a healthcare provider) into the uterus which means they must pass through the cervix. Though the insertion is incredibly quick (only a few minutes) it can be painful for female bodied individuals who have never had children. While it’s usually done without anesthetic, like Amanda said, having the appointment while you’re on your period and taking a few Advil can make the procedure more comfortable.
Fear of pain is one of the biggest deterrents for people in choosing to get an IUD but the truth is that it’s just a few moments of discomfort (and shouldn’t hurt more than some period cramps). I’d suggest trying to convince yourself that it won’t hurt too much and trying to focus on other things during the insertion. Maybe bring a friend to the appointment and have them distract you and squeeze your hand.
After the insertion itself, you may feel cramps, mild discomfort and experience some spotting for the next few days. This should go away pretty quickly although your periods can take a few months to get back on a normal cycle.
It is important to remember that the IUD does not prevent against any STIs and that condoms should still be used if you start sleeping with someone new. However, IUDs are the highest rated form of contraception and - especially if you don’t want to deal with taking a daily pill - can be a great, great option!