The Truth about IUds

Like many other women, when I had my IUD inserted, I was not prepared for the extreme pain I was about to endure. The feeling was far more than the “slight pinch” my doctor claimed I would experience and was instead a blinding pain that encouraged a skew of curse words and tears. As more has been said on the pain of IUD insertion in the past few years, I have realized that I was not alone in my pain and feelings of unpreparedness. 

A commonly asked question is, if obtaining an IUD is so uncomfortable why not take the pill? IUDs are largely popular because they eliminate the responsibility of having to remember to take a pill every day. Not to mention, IUDS are said to be 99% effective and after insertion are usually very low maintenance. Because of this, it has been suggested that the reason why women are not adequately prepared about the pain they may endure, is to not turn women off of such a reliable form of birth control.

While there are many accounts of difficult IUD insertions, it is important to note that this is not the case for all individuals. Some of this can be attributed to an exceptionally smooth procedure, but it has also been found that whether or not you have given birth vaginally can affect the pain experienced. Studies show that those who have not given birth will usually rank their pain at least a 6 out of 10, whereas those who have given birth’s pain may be as low as a 3.

However, an additional concern for IUD insertions is the amount of women who are walking into these appointments with no knowledge that the procedure could cause them to pass out or feel like there is a “staple gun” in an already sensitive area. Because of this, it is imperative for doctors to properly warn their patients that although those who feel extreme pain may be in the minority, it is still a possibility. Withholding this information can also become dangerous when women are coming to these insertion appointments alone and are going to have to drive home after their appointment. The hot flashes and faintness that can be experienced after insertion put behind the wheel of a car can easily turn into a dangerous situation.

So, what is the solution? In my opinion, the days of recommending ibuprofen to manage the pain of this procedure should be rid of. Ibuprofen rarely helps a majority of women with the cramps they experience on a regular period, so the idea that this would help with the severe cramping accompanied with IUD insertion is not only unrealistic but disproven.

A practical solution to managing IUD pain can begin with your doctor in a pre-insertion consultation. During this time, the patient should not only be informed about what they could experience during the procedure, but pain and anxiety management options are discussed. An example of pain management that has been shown to help is Xylocaine which is a local anesthetic that can be applied either topically or through an injection. As for the patient’s anxiety or fear going into the operation, it is important for doctors to listen to their patients and assess whether or not an anti-anxiety medication would assist in making the procedure more comfortable as well.

5 thoughts on “The Truth about IUds

  1. Loved this post, it’s all so true! My IUD insertion was painful and I did not know what exactly to expect, some of my friends have had similar experiences too. Local anesthetic should definitely be used more often! Women’s pain is not taken seriously when it comes to IUD insertion and other procedures, like a colposcopy, which is done after an abnormal pap smear. In that procedure they use a hole puncher like tool to ‘punch’ a piece of uterine tissue out for testing, my mom had it done and said it was one of the most painful things ever!


  2. So true! I was so scared at the possibility of getting an IUD and the insertion process so I opted to get the nexplanon arm implant, because I also didn’t want the responsibility of taking the pill everyday. But I’ve heard so many horror stories of the insertion process and I can’t help to attest it to women’s pain not being taken seriously by doctors. If a man were to get an insertion like this, there’s no way the process would be this scary and painful.


  3. I have considered getting an IUD but have been scared out of it due to my friend’s reactions that were similar to yours. I think it’s horrendous that something so painful isn’t warranted any kind of medical help. Like you said, I’ve seen people say that they were put to sleep or on heavy medications but only after they asked – not because they were offered.


  4. I have had an IUD since I was 16 and recently had to get it switched out for another one before it expired. The first time I had my IUD inserted I have no problems but getting it switched out was a whole other story. I actually passed out from the pain and yes, all they did recommend was ibuprofen after this experience. I really liked how you added another option to limit the pain at the end!


  5. I was extremely interested in this post. For me, I have been on the pill for almost 7 years. I have thought about getting an IUD but so many of these horror stories have scared me away. I can’t believe the pain my friends and peers have faced getting their IUDs inserted and yet, there is no pain medication given. I have had friends who come back with stories of bleeding and pain for weeks after. I find it crazy that in this age of modern medicine, a better system has not been created.


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