What is it like to have a coil fitted?


From my experience the biggest concerns people have about having an IUD are what the fitting process is like.

As someone who has fitted a lot of IUDs myself I am aware that people’s experience if very variable. Some people experience almost nothing and some people find it quite painful.

This is my best attempt to describe exactly what happens.

Having a coil fitted can be painful but the pain shouldn’t last long and is described as quite similar to period pains. A fitting may be less painful if you have had natural birth (vaginal delivery) as your cervix will have previously been stretched._Some people feel a little faint or sick afterwards (for a short period of time) - this is because stretching the cervix in some people causes fainting. People usually recover very quickly from this.

The pain often comes from stretching the entrance to the womb when the IUD is inserted - so it can be helpful to have your IUD fitted at a time when the entrance to the womb is more open - that is during your period. Often the best time is towards the end of your period when the flow is lighter. That said, it is possible to have an IUD fitted at any time during your cycle.

This is the coil fitting process in detail.

Whilst you lie down, with your knees bent, a speculum will be used to hold your vagina open (the same instrument is used when having a smear test done). Local anaesthetic gel is applied to the cervix and this feels cold.

The clinician will then use forceps to hold the cervix steady in order to determine the size and position of your womb with a sterile probe.

The coil comes with its arms folded down packed inside a narrow tube. The clinician will insert the tube into the vagina, through the cervix and into your uterus (womb).

Then they will pull the plastic tube out, leaving the coil in place allowing the arms of the coil to fold open. Before the speculum is removed, the strings of the coil are cut, leaving 1 to 2 cm hanging down at the top of your vagina so that you can feel to make sure it is still in place.

The whole process should take about 5 minutes.

People normally have some cramping pain afterwards - a bit like period pain - so it is recommended you take some pain killers just before your appointment. You may need to lie down for 10 mins or so afterwards and may need to take it easy for the rest of the day as you may have some period type pain.

Paracetamol, hot water bottles or warm baths can all help with period type pain after a coil is fitted. These usually settle down within a few hours but some people experience ongoing period type pain for a couple of days.

Hope this is helpful.


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