Aches and pains happen from time to time,
especially as we get a little older. However, when you’re relatively young,
specific aches and pains can tell a different story altogether. An intrauterine
device (IUD) can cause some of the aches and pains you feel. This can lead to
more significant problems if the pain is due to your IUD shifting. You
sometimes confuse your IUD pain with monthly cramps, especially if it’s
happening around your time of the month. We’ll look at the subtle differences
between IUD pains and monthly cramps and help you understand which one is
The IUD has been around for ages, its acronym IUD stands for IntraUterine Device. This birth control device is implanted inside the woman’s uterus via vaginal insertion and helps neutralize the risk of pregnancy by acting as an internal barrier against sperm traveling through to the egg. There is usually some discomfort and pain during implantation and the first few days of having the device. The real issue happens if the IUD shifts or moves against your cervix. Shifting doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it’s quite painful. If the device has moved upon digital inspection, you’ll need to consult with a doctor or medical practitioner to adjust the IUD back or to take out and reinsert it. Here’s a few frequently asked questions about the side effects of using an IUD that we put together for you.
Cramps, or dysmenorrhea, are a way of life for
women monthly during their menstrual cycle. The degree of cramps and pain
associated with a period varies from women to women. Some women report no
cramps or pain while some report heavy cramps and horrible pain. These pains
are usually felt in the lower back and the lower abdomen, and typically last
for a few days during the menstruation period. Nausea and headaches can also
happen alongside cramps. Under normal circumstances, the pain usually subsides
after five or seven days.
One of the first things you can do is check for
any movement in your IUD. If you can’t feel the strings, or if the strings are
uneven, then the IUD has moved. You’ll need to visit your doctor. You can also
target where the pain is coming from to figure out which one it is. If the pain
is deeply-rooted inside your uterus, specifically from your cervix, then you
can put two-and-two together and chalk up the distress to your IUD shifting
onto your cervix. If the pain is a “general” pain that sits in your
lower abdomen or your lower back and it’s during your menstruation period, you
can ascribe the pain to menstrual cramps.
Menstrual cramps can’t be gotten rid of. The
best you can do is to control the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers.
The pains will slowly subside as you draw nearer to the end of your menstrual
period. In some cases, resting with a heating pad on your back or abdomen will
also help with the cramps and pains associated with them. For questions and
help related to Dysmenorrhea or IUD’s, consult with your doctor or medical
practitioner to get your questions answered.
Forms of birth control have been around for
decades, and after the fog of shame and congressional gatekeeping lifted in the
1960s, birth control became more available and prevalent. One of the most
popular and effective forms of birth control has been the IUD. The IUD or Intrauterine
Device was initially conceived in 1909 when Dr. Richard Richter used insertions
of a silkwood ring into the uterus.
In the 1920s, Dr. Ernest Grafenberg and Dr.
Karl Prust also created silkwood rings for uterine insertion with varying
degrees of modification to Richter’s original design. These IUD’s were reported
to have an effective rate of 97% against pregnancies. Dr. Grafenberg, in a
later revision, used pure silver around the ring and unfortunately, the women’s
bodies absorbed the silver with their gums turning blue and black (gingival
argyrosis). He used a silver alloy made from a mix of different metals,
including copper, which alleviated the silver absorption problem and also
increased the effective rate to 98.4% against pregnancy.
Copper would play a part later on in the
century with doctors discovering the effect that copper has on sperm, which
increased effectiveness against pregnancy to 99%. These copper-wired IUD’s
would later come into the market in 1988 under the Paragard name.
There have been some misfires on the road to
the IUD’s of today. The A.H. Robins Company in 1971 put an IUD on the market
called the Dalkon Shield. The marketing for this IUD was aggressive and was
priced modestly compared to other IUD’s on the market. In 1974, it was pulled
from the market due to a poorly-designed removal string that caused bacteria to
enter the uterus. These bacteria caused thousands of women to develop Pelvic
Inflammatory Disease (PID), infertility, and in some cases, sepsis. There were
over 300,000 lawsuits filed against A.H. Robins in the late 1970s which caused
the company to go bankrupt and fold.
There are five different kinds of IUD brands today, which consist of Skyla, Kyleena, Lilleta, Mirena, and Paragard. The first four are known as hormonal IUD’s because they contain the hormone Progestin (Levonorgestrel) which mimics the naturally-produced hormone Progesterone. These hormones help thicken mucus in the cervix, which can block and trap sperm from reaching the egg. In some cases, the hormones can stop the egg from leaving the ovaries, which eliminates the chance of impregnation due to no egg being available.
The fifth one listed, Paragard, is a
copper-wrapped IUD with no hormones which can protect against pregnancy for 12
years. This is the most extended protection of any IUD available. The hormonal
IUD’s protection range lasts anywhere from three years (Skyla) to seven years
(Mirena and Lilleta). Paragard also carries the most risk associated with using
it. Women have reported more massive period flows and more menstrual pain in
comparison with other IUD’s. You can’t use Paragard if you’re allergic to
copper or if you suffer from Wilson’s Disease.
One of the IUDs pros is that once it’s in,
you’re done. Under normal circumstances, you can leave it in until you reach
the end of its useful life. IUD’s also have the highest effectiveness against
pregnancy short of total abstinence.
The cons of using an IUD are in the insertion
process, which can be a bit painful. The pain could last for a few days after
insertion, and there’s always a risk that the IUD could shift or even fall out,
but that risk is small under normal circumstances.
If you’re interested in an IUD, please consult with your doctor or medical practitioner to learn more, we also created an FAQ the explains the process for getting an IUD.
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