How To Prepare For IUD Insertion (And Why You Can Probably Expect Some Pain)

IUDs are a popular alternative birth control method, with many women even ditching the pill for IUDS. There are two different types of IUD: The hormonal IUD and the copper IUD. Both of these options act as effective birth control. The hormonal IUD releases hormones to block pregnancy in a similar manner to birth control pills, while the copper IUD simply blocks sperm from entering the eggs in the first place. 

Once inserted, IUDs can stay in for up to 10 years depending on the type. An IUD can also be removed easily if you want to try a new method of contraception or have decided to get pregnant. Although an IUD insertion usually takes less than five minutes, the process itself can feel daunting, especially if you have never had a similar procedure. 

So, whether you are planning to get an IUD inserted soon or you just want to know what really happens when you decide to get an IUD, there are some things you should know before going to your appointment so you can feel fully prepared.

IUD insertion is quick and simple

The first thing to keep in mind is that it's completely normal to feel anxious when getting ready to have an IUD inserted. However, in some cases, panicking can actually make the procedure more painful, as a study published in the National Library of Medicine demonstrated, so it's important to have it done by a nurse or doctor with whom you feel completely comfortable. 

Though cramping is normal during the insertion and for a short while after, the intensity will vary from person to person. Always remember that you are in control of your appointment, and you can ask your doctor or nurse to stop for a few minutes if things become too intense. According to Planned Parenthood, the actual IUD procedure will begin with an examination of your vagina and cervix area to make sure everything is okay. 

Next, a speculum will be inserted into your vagina by your nurse or doctor. Finally, the IUD itself will be placed inside your uterus using a specially-made tool. You might be able to feel a small string near your cervix opening after the insertion — this is there for when your IUD needs to be removed later on and should not be tampered with. 

Being prepared can help you feel ready

In terms of what to do before the appointment, you may want to consider taking some pain medication as a pre-emptive measure. This medication should be taken approximately an hour before the appointment. Though it won't have a numbing effect like anesthetic cream, painkillers will help to alleviate some of the cramps that occur during and after the procedure. It could also help to calm your anxiety about the possible pain during insertion.  

You should also bring a sanitary towel for any spotting. Planned Parenthood advises that spotting is completely normal immediately after the procedure and for up to 3-6 months afterward, too. You may be offered a sanitary towel at your appointment, but bringing one yourself means you're well prepared. Moreover, slight discomfort and cramping are also nothing to be concerned about. 

However, you should not be in intense pain at any point during or after your IUD insertion. It's normal to feel a little dizzy after the procedure, though, so it's a good idea for someone to come to the appointment with you or to pick you up once it's done. The main thing to remember is that you can and should speak to your nurse or doctor about your concerns so you feel as prepared as possible for the appointment.