An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic T-shaped device used for birth control. It is inserted into the uterus where it stays to prevent pregnancy.
An IUD is usually inserted by your health care provider during your monthly period. Either type can be inserted quickly and easily in the provider's office or clinic.
- The provider slides a plastic tube containing the IUD through the vagina and into the uterus.
- Using a plunger in the tube, the provider pushes the IUD into the uterus.
- The provider removes the tube, leaving two small strings that dangle outside the cervix within the vagina.
The strings have two purposes:
- They let the provider or woman check that the IUD stays properly in position.
- They are used to pull the IUD out of the uterus when it is time to remove it. This should only be done by a health care provider.
This procedure can cause discomfort and pain, but not all women have the same side effects. During insertion, you may feel:
- Little pain and some discomfort
- Cramping and pain
- Dizzy or light-headed
Some women have cramps and backaches for 1 to 2 days after insertion. Other may have cramps and backaches for weeks or months. Over-the-counter pain relievers can ease the discomfort.