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ASK THE DOCTOR: I have developed a sharp pain with IUD

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Question: Two weeks ago, an IUD was inserted in me. However, I have started feeling some sharp pain in my tummy (most likely the uterus). What could have gone wrong? Catherine

Dear Catherine,

Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) is one of the most widely used (second common) family planning methods. It is a small, fl exible plastic T-Shaped device which inserted into a woman’s Uterus through the vagina and the cervix by a trained health provider.

The IUD is one of the most effective and long-lasting methods (contraception of up to 12 years). There are two types of IUDs; namely the non-hormonal copper (TCu-380A) IUD and the hormonal Levonorgesterol (Mirena) IUD.

Almost all types of IUDs have one or two strings or threads tied to them. The strings hang through the cervix into the vagina. Experiencing pain following IUD insertion is a common occurrence. This can be in form of cramps, especially during monthly periods.

This pain may go on up to six months after IUD insertion but subsides afterwards. In cases of sharp lower abdominal pain following the IUD or persistent pain outside the monthly periods, it is important for to be evaluated for other causes of pain in the lower abdomen such as Acute Pelvic Infl ammatory infections, ectopic pregnancies, twisted TuboOvarian masses, and etcetera. Other signs and symptoms to watch out in such cases include:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Fever or chills
  • Pain during sex or urination
  • Bleeding after sex or between monthly bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A painful pelvic swelling In cases where the IUD has been displaced from its normal position, pain will occur.

What should I do?

In cases of sharp or unbearable lower abdominal pain following IUD insertion, it is important to see a doctor who will then do physical examination and order other investigations such as a scan to ensure the IUD is in the right place.

Is IUD the best family planning method?

The IUD is one of the commonest family planning methods. This qualifi es it to be safe. It is important to note that it will depend on how one’s body handles a particular contraceptive method. The IUD is inserted once and the user does not have to do anything else about it, making it easy to use.

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