Does Getting an IUD Hurt? An Ob/Gyn Tells the Truth

The pain varies from person to person, but here’s the general process.

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Most women tend to get a little nervous when it comes to anything involving a speculum, so it’s understandable to have a few questions about what to expect at an IUD insertion. First and foremost, will it hurt?

The answer: It depends. While some women say getting their IUD  was a little uncomfortable, like getting a Pap or dealing with some garden-variety menstrual cramps, others describe the procedure as an intense pain, says ob/gyn and maternal fetal medicine specialist Kecia Gaither, MD. This varies from person to person, regardless of the type of IUD (hormonal or non-hormonal).

How IUD Insertion Works

To help ease the pain, your doctor will probably recommend you take an OTC painkiller an hour or two prior to your IUD insertion. Some doctors might ask you to make your appointment for the first or second day of your period, which makes insertion easier. (Don’t worry about the timing; your ob-gyn has seen it all.)

Here’s what happens when you get the IUD. Your doctor will insert a speculum in the vagina and might use a numbing medicine around the cervix (that should make things a bit more comfortable down there). Then, the doc will use a special inserter to get the IUD through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus.

This process often takes less than five minutes, but most doctors will have you lie down for a while, perhaps with a heating pad. It’s normal to feel dizzy or nauseated immediately after insertion. Once you feel comfortable standing up and moving about, you should plan to head home and rest for a day or two. (Finally, a Netflix binge with zero guilt.)

What's the Recovery Like?

Whether or not you experience cramping following insertion, the good news is that it should only last a day or two, and those over-the-counter painkillers should bring relief. And the best part: In some cases, your IUD can be kept in for up to 12 years (depending on the type), so any temporary discomfort will pay off for months and years to come. Otherwise, you can have a doctor remove it at any time.

And remember, while the IUD is one of the most effective methods of preventing pregnancy, only condoms can protect against STDs. Consider using both methods if you are not in a monogamous relationship and do not know the STD/HIV status of your partner.