An IUD (intrauterine device) is a type of birth control device that is inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. An IUD (intrauterine device) can give you up to twelve years of protection from unintended pregnancy, with as much as 99% certainty.
Unfortunately, intrauterine device usage is generally related to cramps. So, what causes intrauterine device-related cramps, when can you expect them to cease, and how can you tell if your IUD cramps are usual or not? Let’s check it out together with the EBCOG (European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynecology).
Normal IUD cramps
IUD insertion: pain during and quickly after it
It’s quite reasonable to feel some bearable cramping during IUD insertion. This type of pain happens when your medical practitioner or nurse touches and dilates your cervix with special tools and pushes the IUD through the cervix into the uterus.
Few describe it as a bit harsher version of cramps you may feel during a pap smear. IUD insertion process lasts only a few minutes, and cramps often become better in 10–15 minutes. To control the pain, you can take o-t-c pain relievers in advance like ibuprofen(1).
You can also ask your anesthesiologist for a local anesthetic to numb the cervical canal before the process. Some medical professionals may use sonography (ultrasound) guidance to show you the procedure.
This may distract you from possible uneasiness and help you feel in control of the method. Ask your consultant about their approach. Women who have had a healthy (vaginal) delivery feel less pain during IUD insertion. For others, the insert may be more excruciating.
Some doctors prescribe a local treatment to smoothen the cervix, make insertion more comfortable, and cause less uneasiness. Please discuss this with your physician. You may experience throbbing or dull pain like menstrual cramps for a few days after your IUD was inserted.
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And like menstrual cramps, IUD cramps can generally be controlled with pain soothers or a heating pad. However, if your cramps suddenly become extreme or you feel a deep pain in the lower abdomen, it’s best to consult your medical care provider early.
Cramps during the first few months with a copper IUD.Hormonal and copper IUDs affect the menstruation cycle(2) in different ways. A hormonal IUD can relieve your menstrual cramps and make your periods few. On the other side, a copper IUD can cause increased menstrual cramping and more substantial periods. These symptoms usually improve in three to six months.
If your IUD continues troubling you and pain soothers don’t help; you may wish to consult your physician. In extreme cases, the symptoms can be severe enough to consider removing the IUD.
Abnormal Intrauterine (IUD) Cramps
If you experience terrible pain in your lower abdomen at any stage of IUD usage, you may need to see your doctor or nurse.
Modern IUDs are foolproof of complications, but it’s best to be on the safe side.
Here are a few vital warning symptoms to watch for:
- Pain in the lower abdomen that is unrelated to your periods
- Bleeding or pain during sex
- Unexplainable fever
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Unusually heavy bleeding in the vagina
With any of these symptoms, it’s best to contact your medical practitioner as early as possible.
It’s very vital to check the IUD strings on a timely basis.
If you feel that they’ve become briefer or if you can feel the bottom of the IUD itself, it means that the IUD is out of place, and you need medical support.
If your intrauterine device is out of place, it may not protect from pregnancy, so you need to use a backup method of contraception.
[ Read: Remedies to Cure Irregularity Periods ]
Make changes in your diet
Adding various foods could help your body as it adapts to the cramps caused by your IUD insertion.
Try things like:
- Pineapples: An enzyme called bromelain in pineapples is thought to help relax muscles, thereby relieving cramps.
- Omega-3s: Adding Omega-3s could also bring some cramp relief.
- Ginger: A study found ginger to be as effective as Advil (Ibuprofen) and mefenamic acid (Ponstel) for treating IUD cramps.
- Bananas: Vitamin B6 in Bananas is an active anti-cramping agent.
Note: Avoid banana chips as they contain added sugars and fats, which may make things worse.
[Read: Natural Methods of Birth Control]
An intrauterine device also has several advantages:
It’s one of the most potent contraceptive methods available today, in fact, 99%! IUDs have an excellent safety profile. They pose no significant health risks, including cardiovascular risks and risks of venous blood clots.
It’s a long-lasting method that provides three to seven (hormonal) or up to twelve (copper) years of protection from unplanned pregnancy.
An intrauterine device can be easily removed, after which you can get pregnant very soon. An intrauterine hormonal device can help your period cramps and make your periods less dense.
IUD cramps are one of the side effects of IUD usage (especially copper IUDs). In many instances, they can be managed with proper pain medication and subsides after time. In some cases, you may feel unusually severe cramps with an IUD, which is a sign you need to consult with your doctor.
IUD (intrauterine devices) are becoming increasingly more common in the world (although the birth control method is still not nearly as popular as others like the pill).
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People like them for a reason! They are long-lasting, and they boast a near-foolproof degree of protection, with some covering you for up to 10 years. But there’s one major gripe many have with the birth control tool: The insertion can hurt like hell.