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5 (Lesser Known) Tips For IUD Insertion

by Alisan Keesee about a month ago in health · updated about a month ago

It's 5 to 10 minutes, tops

5 (Lesser Known) Tips For IUD Insertion
Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash

I was never comfortable with the idea of an implanted birth control option. I remember feeling my friend's Nexplanon implant and wanting to gag from the way it moved underneath her skin. Whenever I thought about an IUD (intrauterine device), I heard about all the horror stories of uterine perforation, or heavier, crampier periods (something I certainly didn't need).

I always figured that when the time came where I wanted to go on birth control that I would resort to the most popular option, pills. However, after developing a deep seeded fear of blood clots and hearing about how increased estrogen--while an effective birth control--could harm the body in so many ways.

Of course, birth control bills are safe, effective, and work for most people. For me though, I wanted the peace of mind that I would not be at an increased risk of the various hormonal problems and changes that can occur. After having a good friend have success with and subsequently get another IUD, I decided to learn more.

After a visit to Planned Parenthood (please go donate) and some online sleuthing of my own, I determined that an IUD would be the safest and best option for me. First, they came in non-hormonal options (though the copper IUD is the one associated with heavier, crampier periods). However, the hormonal options still only contain progesterone, which is a hormone not associated with major side effects and the increased risks of blood clots.

The risks of an IUD such as uterine perforation or other major complications are exceptionally rare, especially now after decades of IUD insertion. They are among one of the safest and most effective options. I also liked that I was not fully committed to it. I could have it removed at any time, and on the off chance I did become pregnant, I could have it removed and continue the pregnancy as normal.

As someone who didn't have the greatest experience with her first pelvic exam (and who has an anxiety disorder), I was nervous. I did a lot of research beforehand and even had an over hour long initial appointment where I discussed all of my possible options and was able to make an informed decision.

After successfully having my IUD inserted and now being a week out, here are some of the things I found helpful leading up to and during insertion.

#1: Go to Planned Parenthood or your OBGYN

Okay, this is not to say that your normal doctor could not insert an IUD successfully and with no complications. However, for the least risk and the doctors and providers most experienced with IUD insertion, I recommend going to Planned Parenthood or an OBGYN office.

I went to Planned Parenthood and had a wonderful experience. I was asked my consent every step of the way and they were able to tell me exactly what to expect and when. They also provided a heating pad and pad for afterward.

#2: Ask for a metal speculum

When I had my first pelvic exam in early 2020, the doctor used a plastic speculum. I expected this to feel more comfortable than the traditional metal speculums you see on TV and in health class. I found the plastic one felt somewhat intrusive and was uncomfortable.

For my IUD insertion, they used a metal speculum (which comes in several different sizes btw, unlike plastic ones which only come in a few). As soon as it was inserted, I could feel a difference. I did not feel as much pressure, and in fact, pretty much forgot it was there after a minute. While I still was pretty sensitive to it at first, it was much, much more comfortable the plastic speculum in my opinion.

However, do whatever feels right for your body!

#3: Take Ibuprofen beforehand

Your provider will likely advise you to do this, especially if you are particularly sensitive when it comes to pelvic exams or procedures. It will also help with cramps after the fact. It definitely made everything easier and since they tell you to take a higher than normal dose (it was 800mg for me), it takes the edge off the pain during and after.

#4: Don't be afraid to express your nerves

Everyone is nervous when they go in! It's perfectly okay to feel that way and let your providers know. They often will take extra care to make sure the entire appointment goes according to your terms. Also, ask questions! Even if you're like me and extensively asked questions and researched beforehand, it doesn't hurt to ask. Even the stupid ones. I asked one that was definitely a little stupid and anxiety-fueled, but they took it in stride and used it to keep me distracted during the most painful part (aka the part where they actually put the IUD in your uterus).

#5: Wear comfortable clothes

You almost certainly will feel crampy afterward. You may bleed and just feel a bit icky for the rest of the day. Wear sweats or leggings that aren't too tight and something you'd feel comfortable climbing straight into bed in after. While I'm exaggerating the cramps after, it's never a bad idea to prioritize your comfort, especially when going in for a procedure that is guaranteed to be at least a little uncomfortable.

Finally, IUDs aren't for everyone. Talk to your doctor, OBGYN, or provider about your options, and take the time to consider how each will fit with your lifestyle, health, and preferences.

health

Alisan Keesee

I am a 24-year-old Seattle based writer who lives alone with my cat. Originally from a small, unincorporated Washington town, I have a penchant for boybands, black coffee, and true crime. I am a graduate of Western Washington University.

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