Is It Normal to Have Cramps With an IUD?

Reviewed on 6/30/2021

IUD cramps
It’s normal to experience IUD cramps, and some women experience cramping for months

It’s normal to have cramps when you get an intrauterine device (IUD) placed in your cervix, especially right after the device is inserted and your muscles are adjusting to the foreign object. Cramping may also be caused by the changes in your hormone levels due to the IUD. 

The intensity of cramps varies from woman to woman. Some may experience such intense pain that the IUD may need to be removed immediately after its insertion, while others feel very little at all.

What to expect when you get an IUD

An IUD is a small plastic tube that is inserted into your uterus through your vagina to prevent pregnancy:

  • You may feel cramping or discomfort as it’s being put in, which may increase if you have anxiety.
  • You may also experience dizziness or nausea, which is normal.
  • If you have given birth in the past, you may have less cramping because your uterus has already undergone a lot of stretching and has become less sensitive.

How long do IUD cramps last?

Cramps usually last 1-2 days after the procedure. Some women may have cramps for several weeks or even as long as 3 months. As your body adjusts to the IUD over time, cramping will gradually subside. 

You may have cramps that come back each month during your period. For some women, monthly period cramps eventually go away, while other women may experience period cramps as long as the IUD is in place.

There are two types of IUDs, copper and hormonal. Cramping tends to be less frequent and severe in women who use hormonal IUDs.

How to reduce your chances of cramping

Before the procedure

While you are bound to experience some sort of discomfort during the procedure, you can reduce your chances of cramping by doing the following:

  • Eat, drink and make sure you are in good shape. Getting the procedure done while dehydrated or on an empty stomach will only cause more discomfort.
  • Try to relax and stay calm. Stress and anxiety can make the procedure more painful for you. Practice deep breathing, listen to music, or have a conversation with your doctor while they insert the IUD.
  • Take analgesics beforehand. You can take 600 mg of ibuprofen or 500 mg of naproxen an hour before your appointment to reduce muscle cramping.
  • Schedule your appointment at the right time. During the last few days of your menstrual cycle, your cervix is soft and dilated. Scheduling an appointment for IUD insertion at this time is likely to cause less cramping.

After the procedure

A few simple measures can ease your pain after the procedure:

  • Take OTC pain medication like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to help reduce inflammation and alleviate cramps. Try 600 mg of ibuprofen 3 times a day (or every 8 hours) for the first 1-2 days. Your doctor will usually recommend how much to take; if they don’t, make sure to ask about it.
  • Ensure you drink plenty of water and get adequate rest.
  • Gently apply a heating pad to the area.
  • Avoid exercising and having sex when you are in pain.

When to see a doctor about cramping

Though cramping is normal during and after an IUD procedure, severe cramping needs medical attention. It may be a sign of improper insertion or an injury to your uterus.

If you experience cramping that lasts for more than 3 months and have associated symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding or foul-smelling vaginal discharge, you should visit your gynecologist. If you do not feel the IUD strings in place, inform your gynecologist immediately.

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References
Center for Young Women's Health. Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs). https://youngwomenshealth.org/2012/08/02/iud/

Planned Parenthood Federation of America. What Are the Side Effects of IUDs? https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud/iud-side-effects

Brett AJ. Insertion and Removal of Intrauterine Devices. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Jan 1;71(1):95-102. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15663031/

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