Everything You Need To Know About IUDs After You Get One

Having an IUD means you don’t have to remember to take a birth control pill every day, which is one of the biggest draws – other than preventing an unwanted pregnancy, of course. If you decide to have one inserted, you’ll likely be briefed on what you can expect from the procedure. However, here’s everything you need to know about your IUD once it’s in.

  1. You might experience some spotting. After having an IUD inserted, many women experience spotting and bleeding for up to three months. This is especially the case with hormonal IUDs and it’s because the endometrial lining is thinning out. Don’t freak out – it’s normal. If you bleed for longer than three months, however, it’s good to get checked out to be sure that the IUD is inserted properly.
  2. You need to leave your vagina alone! For a week or two after getting an IUD, you should avoid putting anything in your vagina, including tampons, as this helps to prevent infections. Sex should also be off the table for at least a week.
  3. Your periods might be easier. If you experience cramping and a heavy flow during your period, having an IUD can make that time of the month better. That’s because of the progestin hormone in hormonal IUDs. Bonus!
  4. Rough sex won’t damage it. You might worry that having a rough sex session or trying difficult sex positions with your partner could dislodge your IUD, but that’s really rare. Your IUD can actually come out but that’s unlikely. The good news is that sex won’t increase that risk, so you’re good.
  5. You might feel the threads. The IUD will have threads that you should feel if you put your fingers into your vagina and reach into your cervix. This is good because it enables your doctor to remove the IUD at a later stage. However, you should avoid pulling those threads – this could dislodge the IUD! Over time, those threads won’t be felt anymore, so don’t panic if you stop being able to feel them. There’s nothing wrong, they just tend to curl around the cervix after awhile.
  6. You might lose your periods. For some women who have had hormonal IUDs inserted, their periods become much lighter or even stop altogether. While this might seem alarming, it’s good to know that one’s period tends to go back to normal after their IUD is removed. It’s comforting to bear in mind if you want to get pregnant after a certain time of having an IUD.
  7. It will take you a few months to conceive. If you want to have the option of getting pregnant after using an IUD for a while, you can and the odds are in your favor. After removing an IUD, it takes a woman and her partner an average of five months to conceive after one year. And, roughly 85% of couples do end up getting pregnant.
  8. The hormonal iud can affect breastfeeding. If you’ve had a baby and now want to use the IUD again, you should bear in mind that having a copper IUD is probably a better bet than a hormonal birth control option. The reason is that the copper IUD doesn’t have any hormones, so it’s safe for women who breastfeed while being on birth control. This is a safer choice than other birth control options such as the pill or patch, as these contain estrogen that can interfere with your milk supply.
  9. Don’t douche! Along with being careful to avoid using tampons and having sex for two weeks after getting the IUD inserted, you should also try to avoid infections in general for a few weeks after getting one – this is the time when you’re most prone to them. Douching is a big no-no to avoid as it can cause pesky infections. Since your vagina contains bacteria (but it’s normal and healthy), douching boosts your risk of spreading that bacteria into your reproductive organs, causing infection. In fact, just stop this practice altogether.
  10. There are way fewer side effects compared to traditional birth control. You don’t have to worry about hormonal side effects with a copper IUD. The copper IUD doesn’t contain any hormones, so it won’t give you side effects such as acne and weight gain that you might experience on hormonal birth control options. What a relief, right?
  11. Of course, there’s a catch. For some women, being on hormonal birth control actually saves their skin, leading to fewer acne flare-ups, and might even help to make their periods less painful every month. Both hormonal and copper IUDs haven’t been found to assist with those irritating symptoms you get before and during your period. Bummer. A good tip is to wait it out and see if your body adjusts to life on the IUD. If it doesn’t and you’re just not happy on it, the good news is that you can kick your IUD to the curb at any time, so there’s no commitment.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.