Birth Control Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) (cont.)
Omnia M Samra, MD
Bryan D Cowan, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
IN THIS ARTICLE
Placement of the IUD
Before an IUD is placed, a physical examination is important to make sure that the reproductive organs are normal and that no infections are present. The clinician will ask about medical and lifestyle history. Being open and honest is important when answering these questions. IUDs are not appropriate for every woman.
Before the IUD is placed, a woman should discuss any questions she has with her clinician. The clinician will also provide a consent form with detailed information about the IUD. The woman should make sure to read this form carefully and understand it before signing.
An IUD can be placed during an office visit and remains in place until a medical professional removes it. It can be inserted at any phase of the menstrual cycle, but the best time is right after the menstrual period because this is when the cervix is softest and when women are least likely to be pregnant. Women may be instructed to take an over-the-counter pain reliever an hour before insertion to prevent cramps. Women may also be given an antibiotic to prevent possible infection associated with insertion; however, some studies disagree about the benefit of antibiotics.
To place the IUD, a speculum is used to hold the vagina open. An instrument is used to steady the cervix and uterus, and a tube is used to place the IUD. The arms of the T shape bend back in the tube and then open once the IUD is in the uterus. Once the IUD is in place, the instruments are withdrawn. The string hangs about an inch out of the cervix but does not hang out of the vagina.
Cramps may be uncomfortable during insertion, and some women feel dizzy. Breathing deeply and trying to relax should prevent these problems. Women may want to have someone with them to drive them home after IUD insertion.
Once the IUD is placed, women can return to normal activities such as sex, exercise, and swimming as soon as they are comfortable. Strenuous physical activity does not affect the position of the IUD. Women can also use tampons as soon as they wish after an IUD is placed.
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