Seen at Zoom: When an IUD Causes Pain During Sex

August 11, 2020

The IUD fan club gets bigger every day. Its most impressive members? Female GYNs. When it comes to their own birth control, gynecologists pick intrauterine devices more often than the Pill or implants.They know that IUDs deliver maintenance-free contraception for 3 to 10 years (depending on the type and model). And that serious complications are reassuringly rare. But as a recent Zoom patient demonstrated, an IUD can cause pain during sex. Which completely defeats its purpose.

What happened

A patient recently came into Zoom because sex had been hurting ever since she had an IUD inserted a few months before. Which isn’t normal. “Hormone-releasing IUDs can trigger cramping after insertion, but ongoing pain during sex is never something to ignore,” says Cynthia McNally, MD, a board-certified GYN and the Gynecology Team Lead at ZOOM+Care in Portland, OR.

Why it happened

“We did an ultrasound and found that the patient’s IUD was in the wrong position,” says Dr. McNally. There are two main reasons why an IUD would be out of place: “Either it wasn’t inserted correctly, or the muscles of the uterus were pushing it out.” Don't let this put you off IUDs. A badly placed IUD is often the result of an inexperienced clinician. And expulsion of an IUD by the uterus happens only in about 5% of cases.

What to do if sex hurts with an IUD

Schedule a visit with a GYN asap. Unfortunately, an out-of-place IUD can’t be repositioned. “Your doctor will have to remove the IUD,” says McNally. But she encourages women not to give up.“If you and your GYN have decided that an IUD is a great option for you, it’s worth having another IUD inserted — especially if contraception is covered by your insurance plan,” says McNally.” The extra effort is likely to be rewarded with years of cheap, easy contraception.Bonus tip: Scheduling an IUD insertion during your period and taking ibuprofen two hours before your visit will make the procedure as comfortable as possible.To figure out the best contraception for you right now, schedule a same-day, no-wait visit for Gynecology.[Photo by Sarahmirk, via WikiMedia Commons]

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