FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Sometimes people are too embarrassed, too busy, or just don’t know the right questions. The questions on this page should cover a lot of aspects of what you need to know though.

INTRAUTERINE DEVICE (IUD)

Is it painful to have an IUD inserted?

An IUD (Intrauterine Device) insertion is usually well tolerated by most women. Local anesthesia may be applied to the uterine cervix prior to the insertion. Some women may experience pain and dizziness after insertion, which usually settles after resting for a short time.

Can the IUD be used as emergency contraception?

The IUD can be used as an emergency contraception and must be inserted within 5 to 8 days (ideally within 120 hours) after unprotected sex. Because of the insertion procedure, the IUD is not suitable to be used regularly as emergency contraception.

Can the IUD come out or get stuck in my uterus?

The IUD must be inserted by a trained healthcare provider who will follow the necessary procedure to ensure it is correctly positioned. Occasionally, the muscular contractions of the womb during menstruation may sometimes push it out of place or expel it. Very rarely it can perforate the wall of the uterus. If a user of an IUD experiences any unusual bleeding, pain or discomfort, her doctor must be informed as soon as possible.

Is it safe to wear tampons during my period if I have an IUD fitted?

Use of sanitary pads is recommended. If tampons are used, you should change them more frequently, and with care so as not to pull the threads of the IUD when manipulating the tampon.

Will I bleed after having an IUD fitted?

Women using an IUD are more likely to experience an increase in blood loss each month than non-users. This typically occurs because of increased duration and heaviness of menstrual flow, but may also result from irregular bleeding and spotting in between periods.

Will an IUD affect my periods?

Women with an IUD can experience an increased duration and heaviness of menstrual flow.

How long is it safe to have an IUD fitted for?

An IUD can be left in place from 5 up to 10 years, depending on the type. After this time, it will need to be replaced with a new device. If this method of contraception has worked well for you, and if you still wish to use a long-term contraceptive option, then you can discuss with your doctor or healthcare provider about continuing with this method.

All IUDs are the same, aren't they?

The image still conjured up immediately in many women's minds is that of the copper IUD or coil with its metal parts and their supposedly harmful effects. The efficacy of the coil is actually based on copper ions that interfere with sperm mobility. In addition, the lining of the uterus is altered by a mild inflammatory reaction such that any fertilized eggs are prevented from implanting. There is a modern alternative to the copper coil, however, in the form of the hormonal IUS, which differs in terms of its mode of action despite the similar name.

Does the IUD make a woman infertile?

No, a woman can become pregnant once the IUD is removed just as quickly as a woman who has never used an IUD, although fertility decreases as women get older. Research studies find no increased risk of infertility among women who have used IUDs, including young women and women with no children. Whether or not a woman has an IUD, however, if she develops pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and it is not treated, there is some chance that she will become infertile.

Will my partner or I feel it during sex?

Neither you nor your partner should feel the IUD during sexual intercourse. If you do, sexual intercourse should be avoided until your doctor has checked that the IUD is still in the correct position.

Can a woman who has never had a baby use an IUD?

A woman who has not had children generally can use an IUD, but she should understand that the IUD is more likely to come out because her uterus may be smaller than the uterus of a woman who has given birth.

Can the IUD travel from the woman's uterus to other parts of her body?

The IUD never travels to any other part of the body outside the abdomen. The IUD normally stays within the uterus like a seed within a shell. Rarely, the IUD may come through the wall of the uterus into the abdominal cavity. This is most often due to a mistake during insertion. If it is discovered within 6 weeks or so after insertion or if it is causing symptoms at any time, the IUD will need to be removed.

Must an IUD be inserted only during a woman's monthly bleeding?

For a woman having menstrual cycles, an IUD can be inserted at any time during her menstrual cycle if it is reasonably certain that the woman is not pregnant. Inserting the IUD during her monthly bleeding may be a good time because she is not likely to be pregnant, and insertion may be easier. It is not as easy to see signs of infection during monthly bleeding, however.

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