Intrauterine Device Insertion
(IUD Insertion; Copper IUD Insertion; Hormone-releasing IUD Insertion)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of temporary birth control for women. A small device is placed in the uterus by a healthcare professional. There are 2 types of IUDs:
- Hormone-releasing—effective for 3 years or 5 years depending on the brand.
- Copper—effective for 10 years.
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Most women can become pregnant when the device is removed.
Reasons for Procedure
An IUD is inserted to prevent pregnancy. The hormone-releasing IUD may also help to treat:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Painful periods
- Endometrial hyperplasia
Problems from the procedure are rare. Your doctor will review possible problems of the procedure and having an IUD such as:
- Abnormal bleeding and increased spotting for a few months
- Irregular or no period (hormone-releasing IUD)
- Heavier periods (copper IUD)
- Pain during period
- IUD can slip out of the uterus or vagina
- Pelvic infection
- Damage to the uterus or nearby organs
There is a chance that you can get pregnant with IUD. This pregnancy may have problems such as miscarriage, premature labor, or delivery. The fetus may also develop outside the uterus. This is called an ectopic pregnancy.
An IUD is not the best choice for every woman. IUD insertion may not be ideal for women with:
- Vaginal bleeding of unknown cause
- Defects of the uterus
- History of ectopic pregnancy
- History of pelvic infection after childbirth or after an abortion in the last 3 months
- History of pelvic inflammatory disease, unless there has been a normal pregnancy since then
- Sexually transmitted disease or other infection in the pelvic area
- Cervical or uterine cancer
A hormone-releasing IUD may not be a good choice for women with:
A copper IUD may not be a good choice for women with:
- Allergy to copper
- Wilson’s disease
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Tests may be done to check for pregnancy or infection.
Ask someone to give you a ride home after the procedure.
Local anesthesia is used. It will numb the area to ease discomfort. You will be awake.
Description of the Procedure
You will lie on an exam table with feet in foot holders. A speculum will be inserted into the vagina. It will make space so the doctor can work. The cervix and vagina will be cleaned.
The T-shaped IUD will be folded and placed into a tube. The tube will be passed through the vagina to the uterus. The IUD will be released in the uterus. It will open and sit in the upper part of the uterus. A thing string will hang down from the device into the vagina. The tube and tools will be removed.
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How Long Will It Take?
It will take about 5 minutes to insert.
Will It Hurt?
You may feel cramping or mild discomfort while the IUD is being placed. The doctor may recommend medicine such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen an hour before the procedure.
At the Care Center
Medicine may be given to ease discomfort. You can leave once you are ready.
Copper IUDs will work right away.
Hormone-releasing IUDs may take some time before they are effective. Other forms of birth control should be used until the IUD takes effect.
IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if recovery is not going as expected or if any of the following happen:
- Change in the length of the strings or cannot feel strings with your fingers
- Feel the "T" part of the IUD passing through your cervix
- Possible pregnancy
- Heavy periods or periods that last longer than usual
- Missed, late, or unusually light period
- You or your partner have or are exposed to a sexually transmitted disease
- Severe cramps, pain, or tenderness in your belly
- Pain or bleeding during sex
- Unexplained fever or chills
- Flu-like symptoms, like muscle aches or tiredness
- Unusual discharge from the vagina or sores on your genitals
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
- Severe headaches
- Rapid heartbeat
Office on Women's Health
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Committee on Practice Bulletins-Gynecology, Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Work Group. Practice Bulletin No. 186: Long-Acting Reversible Contraception: Implants and Intrauterine Devices. Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Nov;130(5):e251-e269
Intrauterine device. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/device/intrauterine-device-iud/. Updated October 23, 2019. Accessed October 30, 2019.
Intrauterine device. US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/opa/pregnancy-prevention/birth-control-methods/iud/index.html. Updated May 2, 2019. Accessed October 30, 2019.
IUD. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/iud-4245.htm. Accessed October 30, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 10/30/2019