How IUD Insertion and Use Can Vary from Woman to Woman

February 10, 2011

Because every woman-and every woman's body-is so different, birth control methods can work quite differently from woman to woman. Although there are many factors to consider before having your doctor insert an IUD, there are certain issues which can alter the overall effectiveness of the IUD. When you have your gynecological exam prior to having your IUD inserted, your doctor will check to find the position and size of your womb, ensure you are not pregnant, and look for any signs of infections or sexually transmitted diseases. A breast exam will probably also be done at this time. Your doctor will likely want to check you again about six weeks following insertion of the IUD, and then at least yearly after that. Women who have any type of heart valve defect will receive antibiotics when the IUD is inserted and removed. This is to prevent inflammation of the heart valves, and further complications.

Pain Levels

The perception of pain is so different from woman to woman that it is impossible to tell any woman "how much it will hurt." It's always a good idea to take a Motrin or other pain killer prior to having an IUD inserted. While some women report feeling only a small pinch, others describe the pain of an IUD insertion as excruciating-or worse. Your doctor should tell you what he is doing as he performs the IUD insertion, and should tell you how much pain to expect (although yours could be more, or less). If your pain during the IUD insertion is just too severe, your doctor may stop the process, and discuss other birth control options with you. Oftentimes younger women who have not yet had a baby may not be as good a candidate for an IUD. If you have severe pain that doesn't subside, or if heavy bleeding following the procedure does not let up, contact your doctor. In rare cases, the IUD can penetrate the wall of the womb. IUD insertion is generally easier for a woman who has had a child through natural childbirth.

Change in Periods

While the majority of women experience lighter and shorter periods following the insertion of an IUD, there are those who may experience the exact opposite, and begin having much longer periods with much heavier bleeding. While it is normal to have some irregular bleeding or spotting in the first few months following the insertion of Mirena, your periods should achieve some semblance of regularity after that, or, in some cases, stop altogether.

Checking the IUD

Your doctor will have you check the strings on your IUD following every period, and will instruct you on how to check the threads correctly. If the strings seem longer, or you cannot feel them at all, contact your doctor immediately as the IUD may have become dislodged or you could have expelled it without being aware of it. If you experience a sudden increase in bleeding, the IUD may have been expelled, leaving you vulnerable to pregnancy. IUD's are most likely to be expelled during the first few months after insertion, or when it is inserted just after childbirth. Approximately 2-10% of all IUD's are expelled from the uterus into the vagina during the first year.

Pregnancy While Using the IUD

Should you become pregnant while using the IUD, it will need to be immediately removed. Often when the IUD is removed, it triggers a miscarriage, or, should the pregnancy continue, there is a risk of premature labor. Approximately one in every 1000 women become pregnant while using Mirena, usually as a result of its being dislodged. Women who have become pregnant while using Mirena went on to deliver healthy babies, although there can be certain risks involved.

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