After we become mothers for the first (or fifth) time, many of us are done having kids — forever or just for now. We seek the peace of mind that comes from knowing there are no unplanned pregnancies on the horizon. One of the most popular birth control methods is the IUD (intrauterine device), a T-shaped plastic device about the size of a quarter put in the lining of the uterus. An IUD can be placed any time throughout your cycle, even while still in the hospital after giving birth. For every 100 couples who have regular sex with IUD, fewer than one will experience pregnancy.
An IUD is one of several long-term effective ways to prevent pregnancy, and many prefer them over other options. You can’t forget a dose of IUD like birth control pills or risk using it wrong (like condoms).
You might be wondering:
- Can my partner tell if I have an IUD in place?
- Can an IUD fall out during rough sex?
- What are the signs that an IUD is out of place?
We’ll answer all of these pressing questions and more.
To hormone or not to hormone? That is the question.
First, it’s essential to understand how the IUD affects your body. Five brands of IUDs are FDA approved, and they fall into two types.
The hormonal IUD uses the hormone progestin (similar to progesterone) to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the brand you go with, it works for three to seven years. These IUDs thin your uterine lining, making it difficult for an egg to implant, and thicken the mucus on the cervix, which blocks sperm. Sometimes, the progestin prevents ovulation all together. If you suffer from extremely heavy or painful periods, this IUD could result in a lighter flow.
Copper IUD (Non-Hormonal)
The copper IUD is designed to last up to 12 years. Some women find that oral contraception makes them moody and causes other issues, so this is an excellent option for those who don’t want hormones. Instead of hormones, the device is wrapped in a tiny bit of copper, which damages sperm and makes it almost impossible to get to the egg. However, the trade-off is that it tends to bring on longer, more painful periods. This can also impact your overall desire to have sex. If you already have a heavy flow, this might not be the right choice for you.
Insertion of an IUD can be uncomfortable — even painful for some — and can result in significant cramping. Immediately after insertion, the area may be sensitive, but there should be no other issues having intercourse.
Sex and the Stringy
Your partner will not notice the IUD itself during sex. Once the doctor inserts your IUD, one or two thin plastic strings similar to fishing wire hang down into your vaginal canal. While having sex with IUD, the tip of the penis might brush against these strings, creating a weird sensation that some people find unpleasant.
First, don’t panic! Such occurrences are normal. The strings should soften in a few weeks and typically curl up around the cervix, so try to be patient.
If the strings are an issue, there are a few ways to make sex with an IUI more comfortable:
- Have your partner wear a condom.
- Have your partner thrust more shallowly.
- Have your doctor trim the strings. Disclaimer: There’s a slight chance that trimming the strings can leave a sharper edge.
Some folks enjoy sex with a lot of vigor. One of the most common questions regarding sex after IUD placement is, “Can an IUD dislodge or fall out during rough sex?”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that the uterus pushes out the IUD, AKA IUD expulsion, in two to 10 percent of all people with IUDs and varies by IUD type. That doesn’t mean it falls out in your underwear. Sometimes it is only partially expelled. In this case, you might feel something hard extending from your cervix.
While an IUD can fall out, it’s not common. And sex is not a factor, so don’t be afraid to get your freak on. The most common time for IUD expulsion is having had the device inserted recently. Perhaps the doctor placed it incorrectly, or your body simply rejected it. The more time that goes by after insertion, the less likely your body will expel it.
I Think It Moved
Once placed, an IUD typically stays put, but sometimes it shifts up or down. If you think it may have moved, you’ll want to contact your gynecologist to check. About one out of every 1000 placements results in the IUD going through the wall of the uterus.
Here’s what to look for:
Are you in immense pain?
While the flow and cramps with the copper IUD can be awful, there could be something wrong if severe pain and cramping occur outside of your period window.
Can you feel the IUD in your cervix?
You shouldn’t feel the IUD at all, so if it feels like you have a piece of plastic in your cervix, go to the doctor.
Are the strings longer or shorter than before?
You can check using clean hands and inserting your middle finger up your vagina. You should feel them at the cervix. If you can’t find the strings, the IUD may have moved up. If they feel more extended, the IUD may have slipped down.
Does it hurt to have sex?
Painful sex could mean that the IUD has shifted, but it can also be caused by other issues such as endometriosis. It’s best to get checked out.
Most people who have IUDs will have zero issues, and if it does move, your doctor can help you. Whether you’re done having kids for good or done having kids for right now, an IUD is a fantastic birth control solution for many women. Go on, girl! Live your best life!