Something's Off

Uh Oh... I Think My IUD Is Out Of Place. What Now?!

First, don’t freak out. Second, look for these signs, according to an OB-GYN.

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If you've decided you don't want to have any more kids (or want to take a prolonged break), the IUD, or the intrauterine device, is one of the best birth control methods out there. According to Planned Parenthood, it's 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and lasts between three and 12 years. In other words, you don't have to worry about taking a daily birth control pill or whether or not you have condoms in your bathroom cabinet. The tiny, T-shaped copper IUD is inserted into the uterus by your OB-GYN, and, to be honest, the insertion can feel pretty uncomfortable. So, what do you do if you wake up one morning and you feel like like something's off, aka your IUD is out of place?

Well, first, you don't want to panic, says Greg Marchand, a board-certified OB-GYN. "Unfortunately, a normal IUD insertion can be quite painful on its own, especially if you've never had a baby, so it can be difficult to tell if a complication has occurred," he tells Scary Mommy. "Many women report pain that they considered surprisingly severe pain at the time of IUD insertion, even when everything goes perfectly."

As a result, some women might wrongly assume that something's not right if the insertion process is severely painful. Although Marchand says that an IUD can fall out or change positions, it's rare — but sometimes, your IUD can be out of place.

So here's what to know if something feels "off." Remember, though, always contact your gynecologist to check out any worries!

What does it mean if your IUD is out of place?

"First, we should talk a little about what is meant by 'not in the correct position,'" Marchand says. "An IUD that is in the uterus but not up against the fundus (right at the top of the uterus) may be considered to be in an 'acceptable' position. This means that the IUD will do its job of preventing pregnancy but might not do as good of a job of regulating or eliminating periods as it might have if it was in a 'good' position right up at the top of the uterus, which is called the fundus."

As such, if the IUD has moved from a perfect position to a lower "acceptable" position, Marchand says it might not necessarily need to be removed — but that's up to you and your doctor.

According to Marchand, an IUD in an unacceptable or poor position in the cervix does need to be removed "because in that position it may not be able to prevent pregnancy."

It is very rare for an IUD to be placed into the abdomen (i.e., having it penetrate the uterus at the time of insertion and go into the abdomen,) but Marchand says this can happen. So, if you have severe abdominal pain or fevers following an IUD insertion, Marchand advises you to seek medical attention.

How can you tell if your IUD is out of place?

Following the insertion of an intrauterine device, Marchand says it can take up to six weeks for your uterus to "get used to it." Following that, your periods should revert to what they were before the IUD or be lighter, shorter, or disappear.

"The most common symptom of an IUD that's not in the correct position is if your bleeding stays abnormal after this six-week period," Marchand explains. "One exception is non-hormonal copper IUDs, which may cause heavier and longer periods for as long as they are in position."

If you detect a change in your periods or believe you have felt your IUD move, Marchand suggests seeing an OB-GYN so they can perform an ultrasound to verify the position of the device in the uterus.

"Be sure to check if you can still feel the strings in your vagina, and if you feel comfortable doing so, check your vagina to be sure the IUD has not fallen out of the uterus and is sitting in the vagina," he recommends. "Also, be sure to see an OB-GYN if you believe your IUD strings have been accidentally or purposely pulled on by yourself or a sex partner."

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