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All about the IUD process

Katherine Pennington is a diet and lifestyle coach and founder of Be in Balance (be-n-balance.com). She is a writer, lecturer, raw food chef and also runs a cooking program for kids and their moms called Kids in the Kitch. Katherine grad...

Getting an IUD

If you are considering getting an IUD, you should learn as much as you can about the device. Here, you will find out how an IUD is inserted and removed, along with other details that you may find helpful in making your birth control decision.

How is the IUD inserted?

Getting an IUD inserted does not require surgery or anesthesia, just an easy office visit! To prevent infection and ensure that there is no existing pregnancy, clinics require women to have check-ups to include a full medical, pelvic and breast exam with a pap smear, STI check and pregnancy test prior to insertion. As a side note, antibiotics also should be taken for women who have endocarditis (infection of valves within the heart.)

Before the IUD is inserted, a doctor will place a speculum into your vagina and clean the vagina and cervix with an antiseptic solution to prevent infection. The doctor will then holds your cervix and straighten out your cervical canal before inserting the IUD using a narrow applicator tube. Once the IUD is inserted, the application tube is removed and the arms of the t-shaped device open.

 

An IUD may be inserted at any time, however ideally it is inserted when a woman is menstruating so that the cervix will be open and pregnancy unlikely. The procedure for inserting the IUD takes between 5-15 minutes. You will need to see your doctor for a pelvic exam approximately 2-4 weeks after insertion to ensure all is working properly.

Does an IUD hurt?

Some women have no side effects from insertion, however most women will feel some cramping during and after the procedure. Ibuprofen, or any other pain medication that you prefer such as Advil, can be used to help relieve cramping.

How is the IUD removed?

When you would like to have your IUD removed or it is time to have it replaced, the procedure is a very similar to the one for inserting the IUD. Your doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina, cleans your cervix and uses an instrument to straighten out the cervical canal and then grabs the string of the IUD with small forceps. The doctor will then gently pull on the strings and the IUD just pops out.

 

Although the IUD is made of soft, flexible plastic, you may experience some cramping both during the removal and after. It is possible to have a new IUD inserted during the same visit.

 

An IUD can be removed at any time however it is preferable to remove it during your menstrual cycle when the cervix is more open. When your IUD is removed, you can become pregnant immediately. Using the hormonal IUD, a woman has an 80% chance of getting pregnant within the year.

How do I check my IUD?

It is easy to check your IUD and all you need to do is check your IUD once a month. Usually it is recommended that women check their IUD after each period. IUDs have a small string, which hangs down from the IUD into the upper part of the vagina. To check your IUD, you just feel for the string by inserting a finger into your vagina or, if you prefer, you can use a mirror, speculum and a flashlight.

 

If the string is shorter than normal, it could be a sign that the IUD has become imbedded in the uterus. If the string disappears, it can mean that the IUD was expelled. Spotting also can occur as a sign of infection. If you are bleeding, feel that the string has either shortened or you cannot locate it, use backup birth control and contact your gynecologist or health care provider immediately.

Will an IUD affect my period?

For the first 3-6 months, your monthly period may be irregular and you may experience spotting. In a few cases, there may be heavy bleeding at this time. After that you may even experience less days of bleeding or your bleeding may stop altogether.

What is the cost of an IUD?

IUDs are often covered by health insurance, however if you do have to pay out of pocket they usually cost between $250-500 in addition to the office visit. While this might sound like a hefty sum, the cost actually turns out to being a cheaper option than most other forms of birth control since the IUD lasts between 5-10 years!

 

If you have a busy life and want an easy form of birth control, then an IUD may be just right for you!

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