Intrauterine Device Insertion
(IUD Insertion; Copper IUD Insertion; Hormone-releasing IUD Insertion)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is inserted in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are 2 types:
- Hormone-releasing—effective for 3 to 5 years
- Copper—effective for 10 years
Most women can become pregnant when the device is removed.
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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—an abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
- The IUD slipping out of the uterus or vagina
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Damage to nearby organs
- Pelvic infection (rare)
There is a chance that you can get pregnant with IUD. This may cause problems, such as miscarriage, premature labor, or delivery. The fetus may also develop outside the uterus. This is called an ectopic pregnancy.
IUDs are safe for most women. A history of certain infections or illnesses may raise the risk of problems. IUDs may also not be safe for women with certain cancers, such as cervical, liver, or breast cancer.
A copper IUD may not be a good choice for women with:
- An allergy to copper
- Wilson disease
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The health team may meet with you to talk about:
- Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take
- Tests that may need to be done, such as a pregnancy test
- Whether you should have someone drive you home after the insertion
Anesthesia is often not needed. The doctor may use local anesthesia. The area will be numb.
Description of the Procedure
You will lie on an exam table with your feet in footrests. A tool will be inserted into the vagina to make space. 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. This may cause some cramping or pain. The IUD will open and sit in the upper part of the uterus. A thin 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 for 3 to 6 months. Bleeding may also be irregular. Medicine and home care can help.
At the Care Center
You can leave once you are ready.
It may take 3 to 6 months for cramping and spotting to stop. Copper IUDs will work right away. Hormonal IUDs may take some time before they work. Other forms of birth control should be used until the IUD takes effect.
Call Your Doctor
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
- Periods that are heavy or last longer than usual
- Severe belly pain or cramping
- A change in the length of the strings or cannot feel strings with your fingers
- An IUD that is passing through your cervix or has come out
- Unusual discharge from the vagina
- Pain during sex
- Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
- Signs of pregnancy, such as nausea and vomiting or tender breasts
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. Accessed August 6, 2020.
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. Accessed August 6, 2020.
IUD. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/iud-4245.htm. Accessed August 6, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 2/24/2021