Having an IUD inserted should mean that you do not need to worry about contraception for the next 5 to 10 years depending on the device that was fitted. The traditional copper IUD can stay in the uterus for up to ten years while the slightly larger Mirena (containing a small dose of progesterone) has to be replaced every five years, making the IUD one of the most cost effective ways of contraception.
If the IUD is fitted correctly, you should not experience after effects apart from possible initial cramping the likes of bad period pain. This can be lessened by taking over the counter pain medication. Within a short time, the pain should subside. However, it can happen that cramping will resurface over the first couple of days after insertion. Taking pain killers is a way of combating this.
Once your IUD is inserted into the uterus, it really doesn’t require much looking after. However, there are a few things to keep in mind and let your doctor or practice nurse know if necessary.
After your IUD is put in place, you can continue with your life as normal, work, exercise, swim and have sex as soon as you fell up to it. Some women do not feel like having sex right after insertion, others can’t wait. But it is very much up to the individual.
Of course, if you are a tampon user, you can continue as normal if and when you periods start. Depending on the type of IUD you may experience longer, shorter, heavier or lighter periods. During the first few months after insertion, while you body is getting used to the device you may experience spot bleeding or more frequent periods. But it will settle after a few months.
After insertion, you doctor will tell you when to come for your first check up to see if everything is fine and still in place. This usually takes place between four and six weeks after being placed in your uterus. The position of the device is checked to make sure that it is still in the correct position and not causing problems. After this first check up you are not required to have further checks for 12 months. Annual check-ups are recommended just to make sure that everything is still in place and you are still happy with the device.
During insertion, you doctor should have told you how to check that the device is still in place by checking the position of the strings that stay outside the cervix and are used to remove the IUD at the end of its life (or when you decide to have it taken out because you want to try for a baby or you are not happy at all with it).
Checking is a simple procedure and can be done any time but it might be easiest either in the shower or when having a nice bath. Just insert a clean finger into your vagina (sometimes a squatting position is easiest) and you should have no problems feeling one or both of the rather stiff pieces of string.
It is recommended to check the strings after each monthly period to see that they are still in place. While it is a good way to check, it might be an idea to check the strings more frequently just after the IUD was first inserted. Maybe it is an idea to check every week that the strings are still in place for the first couple of month, as well as check tampons, pads and panty liners to ensure that the device has not been spontaneously expelled.
Things To Watch Out For
If at any time you do not feel the string, or you feel the actual IUD at the opening of your womb, make sure you contact the doctor who inserted it. You may also want to use other birth control just in case.
If you think you fallen pregnant despite having the IUD, take a test and contact the doctor.
If you feel you are experiencing problems with your IUD that is not part of the initial cramping you felt upon insertion, let your doctor know.
Amongst other problems, these are some of the ones you could experience.
So if you:
have pelvic pain or tenderness
have severe cramping and/or abdominal (belly) pain
have pain or menstrual bleeding when you have sexual intercourse
have fever or chills for no reason
have a strange fluid or odour coming from your vagina
contact your doctor and make sure you don’t have infections or other problems. If not checked out immediately it might be the beginning of a bigger problem. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
And always remember, while the IUD is highly effective preventing pregnancy it does NOT protect you from STDs so if you have casual partners you should use other ways of protecting yourself.
Of course, there are always risks when inserting foreign bodies into a woman’s uterus but if done by a professional you should not experience problems and the aftercare is minimal. This contraceptive device is certainly one of the more user friendly ones which does not need constant checking. Ensuring that everything is still in place once a month at the end of a period is all it should need.