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Sexual Health | Women’s Health
patient talking to her doctor

What’s It Like to Get an IUD?

A little inconvenience brings good results

First of all, congratulations for choosing the birth control method with the lowest failure rate! And if you are having an IUD placed for period-control reasons, good for you, too. I think you’re going to love it.

Getting started

When I place an IUD for one of my patients, it usually takes less than five minutes — and often even less than two.

Here are the initial steps:

  • When you arrive at your practitioner’s office, you’ll first discuss risks and benefits.
  • Once you’ve signed off on the procedure, the doctor or nurse will likely feel your uterus to see which way it might be tipping.
  • A speculum is placed, just like you’d have for a Pap, and the cervix is washed off with soap.

Placing the IUD

You can expect to experience cramping three times, but only for a few seconds each time.

There are three steps:

  1. Usually, the cervix is grasped. To do this, your doctor uses an instrument that can feel quite pinchy. This pinching feeling usually only lasts 10 seconds or so. If you count backwards from 10, you’ll be feeling better by the time you get to zero.
  1. The inside of the uterus is measured. This feels like a stick is going up in an unfamiliar place, but it only takes a second or two. That’s what the IUD going in will feel like, too.
  1. The arms of the IUD are placed or drawn into the applicator straw. This is the same concept as a tampon applicator — and the whole thing is inserted into the uterus, right up to the top.

Just when you think, “that’s far enough!” the arms will deploy and the straw will be removed. Your uterus may cramp in response to this new intruder, but that usually dies down in a few minutes. Ibuprofen and heat can help with that.

Then, the string of the IUD is trimmed and the speculum removed. Now you are all set for the next five to 10 years.

Going home

Don’t forget that the IUDs can cause spotting for a few months after insertion. Just bear with it, and you will eventually be rewarded with great results.

Tags: birth control, contraception, IUD, pregnant
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Elisa Ross, MD, is a obstetrician and gynecologist in Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Health Institute. She loves caring for and educating women.

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  • Stephanie

    I have always been interested in the simplicity of an IUD over the oral contraceptives. I am how ever very concerned with the health risks as well as the impact on my sex life (rumors of the strings being uncomfortable for the man). Is there anything that may put these concerns to rest or may the IUD not be for me?

  • no mirena

    If you are thinking about the Mirena IUD, please read the true side effects at the curezone Mirena website. This IUD has many many women very ill including myself.

  • Mom of Many

    I’ve had 2 IUD’s during my child bearing years. The first one was inserted after my 3rd child. After 5 years I had it removed and then conceived shortly there after with a healthy baby. After having baby six I had the IUD inserted again. But only after 1 month I was pregnant! It failed :( It was a very stressful pregnancy with the threat of miscarriage always present. But thankfully baby was born healthy. I loved the conveinence of the IUD. And my husband had no complaints with it either. No drugs and once removed you can start planning your family with no wait.