IUD Placement: What to Know

April 12, 2024

A zoomed-in photo of hands holding a demo IUD. "IUD Placement: What to Know"

The experience of getting an IUD is different for every body, and is sometimes different from one time to the next.

What is it?

An IUD (intrauterine device) is a very popular, long-acting, and reversible method of contraception with a small “T” of plastic placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to 3-12 years (depending on the type.) IUDs also come in slightly different sizes, which may be recommended depending on your age, body type, or other factors. IUDs are either non-hormonal copper (Paragard) or gradually release a small amount of progestin for additional pregnancy prevention and menstrual cycle regulation (Skyla, Kyleena, Mirena/Liletta.) Learn more about IUDs and different types of birth control here: My Body, My Method

How does it feel to get one?

Many people feel only mild to moderate cramping with IUD placement, although some do experience more significant pain or discomfort. If you’re curious about this highly effective method of birth control but have questions or concerns, we recommend choosing a provider you’re familiar with or a clinic where you already feel comfortable, learning more about placement, and advocating for yourself. KBFPC providers are specially trained in IUD insertion and removal, and will respect your needs, concerns, and requests for the best experience possible.

What will happen at my placement appointment?

During the procedure, after a speculum is placed in the vagina with lubricating jelly, your provider can use topical numbing or a nerve block for even less sensation, and a thin tube slightly stretches the cervix opening in order to place the IUD in your uterus. Contact with the cervix is what usually causes the “pinch,” pressure, or cramping, and providers can share a lot or a little information each step of the way, according to your preference. (Bonus: if you’re due for a cervical Pap test or HPV screening, it can happen at the same visit.)

What if I’m concerned about pain or discomfort?

Your provider will recommend prescription-strength ibuprofen before and after the IUD appointment for pain relief, and can also prescribe anti-anxiety medication – which makes you feel more relaxed but can also help prevent pain by helping your body and muscles physically relax during the procedure. KBFPC providers also routinely offer other options: using a plastic speculum in the smallest size possible, inserting the speculum yourself (with prior instruction & practice), using warmed gel, breathing exercises or a heating pad on the lower abdomen for relaxation, or having a trusted friend or family member with you at your visit.

Remember: everyone’s experience is unique, and choosing to get or remove an IUD is always up to you. KBFPC is here to help.

KBFPC clinic services and supplies, including IUDs, are available on our sliding fee scale. Many teens, adults, and families in our community qualify for this financial assistance program, which may make your visit and device available at low or no cost – up to a 100% discount. Learn more here.