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Pain during IUD fitting

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First, I want to preface that I have a high pain tolerance. I’ve broken bones, I have tattoos, I have piercings, several of which I have done myself (in my younger years, unwise, I know). I don’t have anxiety when going to the doctor or dentist, have always gotten regular pap smears without pain, issue, or anxiety. I was not afraid going into this. 

I had the Skyla coil fitted first. The doctor that fitted it was very experienced, and did not use a cervical clamp. It was a very painful experience, but he did have me take ibuprofen ahead of the appointment, used topical numbing, I can’t recall if he used a numbing injection or not, but the procedure was quick. I recall involuntarily shouting before fainting immediately after, and vomiting when I woke up. The cramps that followed for the next 48 hours were the most excruciating I have ever experienced. 

Three years later, I dutifully returned to the hospital to get it replaced. I’d moved, so I had a different doctor replace the coil. This doctor did not use any numbing nor did they recommend any medication prior to the appointment, although I took ibuprofen regardless. I chose the same coil to get fitted again, but she said she would be using a cervical clamp during the procedure. I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything more painful in my life than when she attached the clamp and began the procedure to insert the new coil. And the derision and impatience of her and her assistant after the procedure as I tried to collect myself, sobbing and half naked on the table was humiliating and traumatic. 
Now, several months later I’m getting follow up calls to come back in to check the placement, as well as get a routine pap smear, and the thought of being back in that position, even knowing I won’t be experiencing that pain during the appointment, triggers a panic attack. I’m left searching for private clinics that I can pay a premium fee for that specialize in working with patients with anxiety and trauma, or finding a way to somehow work past this mental barrier I now have. 

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I recently had the mirena coil fitted. Ives never had one fitted before and I’ve had 4 children and was told it’s easier and simpler with women who have given birth naturally as the cervix is more open than a cervix that has never given birth. Is it painful coming from a women who has previously had 4 children? There is slight discomfort and you can definitely feel it going in. I’d describe it as an ache more than anything but definitely nothing compared to the pain of giving birth. All womens experience are different and have different pain thresholds but I hope this helps anyone who has a similar background to me regarding previously having children. It’s not a severe pain and I carried on with my day perfectly fine straight after. I’m sorry to read all these women that have had really painful, awful experiences but I didn’t. 

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As someone who has experienced my fair share of excruciating periods and been referred several times for severe abdominal pain - I believed (rather naively) that having the could inserted would be fine.


I take the recommended paracetamol an hour before the procedure and have prepared a heat pad for when I returned home. After being told I have a tilted cervix, and several rounds of poking, the coil was finally inserted. HOWEVER this was just the start of severe pain - I could barely talk or move the pain was that bad. The GP surgery was so unprepared for the procedure going wrong - no pain relief, no spare rooms, no heat pads or oxygen. I can only say that the nurses were amazing in looking after me with the limited resources they had! 
I ended up having the coil removed after not experiencing any reduction in pain after half an hour. Upon its removal I vomited everywhere and passed out. 

I’ve been looking into the coil a lot more since unsuccessfully having it inserted and it’s really disappointing to see so many similar stories but no open conversation about the severity of the pain on the NHS website or in consultations about coil insertion. 

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Really moving reading everyone's experiences, solidarity to all of you.

Similar to a lot of people here, I found my IUD fitting the single most painful experience of my life. I was not informed by the NHS website or the person doing the insertion that the procedure would be anything beyond 'uncomfortable'. I was allowed to leave the treatment room despite being barely able to walk, and 5 minutes later I fainted in the sexual health clinic's toilets. I have never felt so alone with my pain, or so violated by an institution which I trusted. The NHS website's phrasing that the procedure might be 'uncomfortable' is an insult. I know they probably don't want to scare people off getting what is, let's face it, a really effective form of contraception - but allowing people to go uninformed into painful medical procedures, because the procedure is for 'their own good' in the long term, is a horrendously paternalistic way of doing healthcare. 

The vital thing I want to add to this conversation is the long-term consequences on my physical and mental health. I'm now in my mid-20s and like all cervix-havers my age, I've started getting letters from the NHS cervical screening service to go get checked for cervical cancer. I know this is a life-saving screening service, but my experience with the IUD fitting has made me extremely reluctant to let anyone wielding a speculum anywhere near my body ever again!  Before I had the coil fitted, I had undergone gynaecological exams before and found them unpleasant but very manageable. I could get on with my day afterwards. Now, after the trauma of my IUD fitting, I find any kind of gynaecological exam very, very difficult, even something as relatively innocuous as a smear test. I had to get a cervical biopsy recently, and although on a rational level I knew it wouldn't be anywhere near as painful as the IUD insertion, as we all know, trauma doesn't live in the rational parts of our brains. I lost sleep the night before the exam, and was sweating and crying uncontrollably during it, and worst of all, this trauma-induced anxiety made the procedure more painful than it needed to be, because I was completely unable to relax.

This is the worst thing about all of this for me. It's not just 5 minutes of pain for 5 years of easy contraception. The complete shock of how painful my IUD fitting was has permanently changed my relationship to my own gynaecological health, to my own body. If that isn't medical malpractice, then I don't know what is. 

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I went for an IUD placement in 2019 (Canada) and had a similar experience. I expected it to be uncomfortable and a little painful knowing (I thought) what the procedure involved. I was not prepared for the level of pain at all tho - it was definitely the most painful thing I have ever experienced. After it was in, I was so dizzy and close to passing out that I couldn't even stand up or leave the office for almost an hour, and the Dr acted like this was unusual and said it had never happened to her before with a patient. After reading many other women's experiences with this, I realize this is actually pretty standard. As I was not expecting this, I didnt take any pain medication before going, nor was any offered or suggested. And I did not take anyone with me to the appt, so I had to walk several blocks back to my car and then drive myself home over an hour away, all while still in pain and feeling very light headed and sick. 

I like my IUD and am happy to have one. But it is insane that so many women report such high levels of pain, yet there seems to be no discussion in the medical field about providing pain relief. If it is normal to get freezing at the dentist, then it should be normal to get freezing for this! Even just being prepared for what I was actually going to experience would have been some help. As some others have said, I also felt strange and almost traumatized when I got home, like something really bad had been done to me, because of how painful it was. That has passed since of course, but I dread having it removed or getting another one put in. I will not be letting that happen without some kind of pain medication and a friend along, that is for sure! 

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Is it normal to still experience pain 7 months later. Sharp pains left hand side uterus and bottom of my back. Thought it was just when I was due to have a period but seems to be just random days now. 

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Hi Jenn, I would recommend you go and see your doctor to get your symptoms checked out if you are still experiencing pain. I do hope you can find some relief and answers soon.

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Hi. When I was about 23 years old, I asked for a framed copper coil and cried with pain at the insertion and began to sweat profusely and feel faint and sick. I was given a bed to lie down on and the kindly family planning doctor (a nice lady, who was upset by my reaction), dropped me the 15 minute walk home by car as I was unfit to walk. When my next period came, the cramps were so awful and prevented me from working my job so I had it removed. At 25, and desperate for contraception, I had a Gynefix coil fitted which was painful to insert - excruciating for 1-2 minutes, but which caused no cramps and stayed 5 years. After my 2 children (V/B) I got another gynefix, again excruciating to fit for 2 minutes, but with no after shaking or sweating or cramping. I had this removed painlessly and then had another child (C/S).  Now in my 40's with periods so heavy that I am flooding everywhere, I have an appointment soon for a mirena coil. I am already dreading it and fearing I will have shock after because it has a frame like my first one. I wonder if the shape affects the response, if you shock because of the womb cramping on the  coil? The gynefix coil is just tiny beads on a string, no frame. I never went into shock with either of these. I will update here when I've done the mirena coil. If I shock again I feel sorry for them ( doing the procedure ) and me, going through it. The pain being a woman is just unreal in relation to contraception and childbirth. Why this isn't done pain-free, I don't know. 

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Hi, I promised to update after my Mirena coil. This experience was so much better because a numbing spray was used prior to insertion. It was uncomfortable and mildly painful for 3  minutes but the staff were amazing and helped me through everything and I left well. I took ibuprofen before going. Maybe ask for the numbing spray because it has made a dfference for me.

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I was 14 when I had my IUD put in. I guess I wanted to get it done so that in high school I could have sex without the fear of pregnancy? I went with my mom and before the appointment I had a total of 2 online appointments, where they essentially told me nothing about the procedure. The obgyn said it would be short and “maybe a little uncomfortable”. Prior to this, I had never had a Pap smear or anything of the sort. My mom gave me 1/2 of a dosage of some anxiety relieving (not pain relief) drug she had lying around. It did absolutely nothing. I remember I was nervous, the lady asked if I wanted to play “calming music during it”, I said no, and then I took off my pants. My mom sat beside me, and I don’t remember anything until the point where the doctor said “this part will be a bit crampy”. Instant unbelievable pain consumed my body, my eyes and mouth shot open, I didn’t cry, I didn’t scream. I remember asking over and over, “Is it over? Is it over?” with short shallow breaths. My mom had gotten an IUD fitting before, after she had me, and said it wasn’t very painful for her. She tried to get me through it by talking about dogs or something, but looking back on it I’m still angry about how she handled the situation. When it was over (after like, 15 minutes, because she couldn’t fit it in the first few times) I immediately felt nauseous and threw up over the side of the chair. A nurse came in to give me a throw up bag and an ibuprofen, which I promptly vomited out a second time. I remember I was in so much pain afterwards, I tried desperately to look for the best sitting position on the ground to relieve myself. I think I spent over an hour just sitting on the ground, waiting to be able to walk again. My mom came over to me and said “Oh my god you look like a ghost”; I’m extremely pale already, but she still recounts how scary it was for her to see me like that. I also had to poop pretty bad right after, which I think was just my body trying to get the foreign object out of my body (the vomit, too). My mom helped me limp to the bathroom, with my underwear practically sliding off, past the reception area of the nurses. I remember how they didn’t seem to care. The only thing that brought me relief before I could hobble to the car with my pants half on, gripping them with my hand, was this air conditioner thing on the floor which provided white nose. I just sat pressed against it for what felt like forever until the pain became bearable. At this point in time, that is still the only appointment I’ve had regarding my IUD. I saw another doctor at a Stanford clinic who offered to put me completely under when I get it removed, but she only works with children (I think), and I’m afraid that by the time I will get it removed that I won’t be able to see her anymore. We haven’t gone to any follow up appointments with that terrible woman, but thankfully there aren’t any extreme side effects happening which would result in a check up. I am writing this at 2 am on a school night because I am constantly kept up by thoughts about this event and when I will get the IUD removed. I am utterly terrified and helpless.

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Hi @Illumi123

So sorry to hear of your horrific experience when you went to get an IUD fitted. No-one should have to experience this type of pain. Although many women have only mild discomfort when they have an IUD, as you can read from this thread, many like yourself have a much worse experience.

If possible, please do speak to a trusted friend or adult about you concerns and experience. We would also encourage you to go and see a healthcare professional, potentially with a friend or trusted adult for support, to discuss your concerns and the pain relief options that are available to you. Having more information may help you feel in a stronger position when the time comes to have your IUD removed. Also, if possible through school or the community, it may be helpful to speak to a counsellor about how you may be able to manage your fears in relation to this if this is something you would feel comfortable doing.

Please continue following this thread as there may be a healthcare professional or patient who has gone through something similar who could advise you further on the options available to you in the US.

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The following account has been shared with Patient Safety Learning by Jen*:

"My first coil insertion and later removal were both done at different GP surgeries and were both agonising. I have broken bones and torn ligaments before, yet nothing compared to the pain I experienced in and after those procedures. For my second coil insertion, I felt I was prepared as I was going to a health centre where I would receive a local anaesthetic and numbing gel, and the procedure would be done by expert nurses. I also took paracetamol beforehand. Still, the pain was so agonising that I screamed. When it came to getting up, they told me I was white as a sheet and then I fainted. There were two nurses there and they had no idea what to do with me. I couldn't stand without my legs collapsing under me. They offered me ibuprofen and visibly panicked when I reminded them I am allergic to it; it was like they had run out of options. Eventually they told me they needed to close so sent me on my way. I had no one with me and drove myself home - I convinced myself I was being very silly and weak because if it was that bad, they'd have called for an ambulance or at least advised me to call a friend, instead of allowing - in fact encouraging me - to drive myself home. I screamed and sobbed in pain all the way home, where I managed get myself a hot water bottle and to drag myself upstairs to bed. I found leftover tramadol from when I broke my ankle, and it didn't touch the pain. I eventually passed out again. The pain lasted for days, and I didn't feel able to tell anyone what was wrong - I had been told by many doctors for many years that I had a low pain threshold and thought that my experience was a reflection of that. I felt a bit pathetic and weak, to be honest. 

"During all of my coil appointments, I was told I had a tilted uterus which they said was very common, and why the insertions had been so 'tricky'. I was later diagnosed with endometriosis and adenomyosis and was told they were common causes for a tilted uterus! There was no mention of those conditions as a possible cause when previously discussed, it was just explained as being one of those things - which would suggest to me that there is a gap in education for healthcare providers. 

"To this day, that second coil fitting is of the most traumatic experiences I have ever had."

*The patients name has been changed

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I’m 26 and I’m trying to switch to the Mirena IUD from the birth control patch due to unwanted side effects. I went in with an open mind and 800mg of ibuprofen in my system and the pain was unbearable. It took 15 minutes just for my cervix to open. I pushed through and the pain of being measure was like an elephant sitting on uterus. They finally got to the point of inserting the device and it kept bending. I was given a period to cool off while another doctor came in and tried a different approach. Unfortunately it failed so so was I prescribed medication to relax my cervix and uterus and they would retry a week later. I bleed for the entire week after. The medication made me very crampy but it was actually working. I went in to the doctor again with this medication and 800mg of ibuprofen. The process was a lot quicker. My cervix opened quickly and the measuring still hurt the worse. However the doctor said the iud was almost in but my uterus is tilted and she was afraid it would perforate my uterus so another doctor then came in and physically felt my uterus with her hand. The process started over and I couldn’t handle it. I was screaming at the top of my lungs and told them to stop. My doctor said anesthesia might be a good option for me but honestly is it worth it? 

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Thank you for sharing your experience.

I am so sorry you went through such pain. It is interesting to hear that the medication you were given to relax the cervix and uterus helped to some extent, I am unsure how often this is offered.

At Patient Safety Learning we continue to call for more research and training in this area, and for all pain management options to be consistently offered to, and discussed with, women undergoing IUD procedures.

Most importantly we are calling for women to be listened to and their experiences routinely captured by health services so the extent of these experiences can be fully understood. Thank you again for sharing yours.

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Hi all,

I hope you don’t mind my posting but I am a doctoral researcher in women’s health looking at interviewing women who have had experiences of distressing/negative/painful coil procedures (insertion and removal) in the UK.

There is limited published research in areas like contraception and there is even less in administering procedures like the coil. I am keen to conduct this research to gain a more in depth understanding of what is going wrong, hopefully publish and help form guidelines to improve this experience for women and help inform practitioners of how to avoid such painful experiences. I am part of a team where we have all had such experiences and we believe strongly that no woman should have to go through these devastating experiences. 

If you have had a coil insertion/removal in the past 2-3 years that was administered in the UK, you would be eligible to participate. I would be incredibly grateful for your participation and we would offer you a £10 shopping voucher as a thank you! 
If you would like to sign up, please follow the following link to see our information sheet and consent form or see the attached poster:
or if you'd prefer drop me a message and I can set up a quick chat for whenever you're available. - s.pilav@herts.ac.uk

Thank you!!


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Hi @Sabrinapsychologist

Thank you for reaching out via the forum. Capturing lived experience will be an important part of understanding the issues and how improvements can be made. 

We will also add your information about the study to the main 'Learn' library so we can share your research request via our other channels.

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I’m so sad and enraged that so many women have spoken out about this and it continues to happen.

I had a coil appointment last week. I was sent a video beforehand. There was no mention of pain and no suggestion whatsoever about taking painkillers. It said it may be ‘uncomfortable’. I would describe getting a tattoo as mildly uncomfortable. What happened to me was excruciating. 

I told doctors I used to get severe cramps and heavy bleeding that resulted in my often passing out from pain as a child. I’d bleed through sanitary products and leak through in under an hour (so had to leave class regularly). This was of course dismissed by medical professionals for a long time until I was put on the combined pill. This worked for years until I got very frequent migraines with aura and was no deemed too high risk for combined pill.

so I was advised to switch to Mirena. I was told the copper coil could hurt but not the mirena.

On the day, I was advised that the mirena will be most effective for my painful/heavy periods but that if I had any painkillers or anaesthetic this would make it harder for the doctor to insert it, and I may have to go with a less effective option. I hadn’t been advised that it would be painful so I said that’s fine. 

When they straightened out my cervix that was really weird and disconcerting and mostly a dull pain with sharp moments, but if it had stayed at that level of pain I would have been ok.

However the measuring utensil went in and the pain increased and increased and I was gripping the bed with my feet (the doctor commented on it), then it hit the top of my uterus felt like what I can only describe as a bomb going off inside my body - cramps unlike anything I could ever imagine. I flinched and I think it hit again which sent further shockwaves.

In that precise moment I decided I never wanted children, if it felt anything like that I am 100% out.

I wanted it all to stop, I was losing consciousness and I remember making audible screams of pain as my lips were turning blue (according to the doctor).

But I couldn’t stop. My god I wanted to say no. To make it stop. But I knew if it stopped I’d have to do it all again.

So I went through the insertion which was worse than the last. 

I was awake but it felt like my body was shutting down, like I usually felt when I passed out as a child. I was overheating and trying to take my clothes off, and couldn’t get up. My heart rate dropped from 60s to 43. The doctors were clearly very concerned about me and did stay with me until I was able to start to slowly get up and get dressed.

I heard the doctors saying to each other that if women knew what it was actually like they probably wouldn’t go through with it. I felt lied to.

 I eventually made my way to the bathroom and sat there unable to move or process until the doctors came and knocked for me and I managed to get up a while after this. I was taken to another room for about 1hr30. I asked them when will the pain stop and they said in a few days and I felt like I wanted to rip it out myself because I couldn’t. When my heart rate got to about 50 I think and I was allowed to leave. It took me about 40 minutes to take my 10 minute train journey (with under 5 minutes walk on one side and under 1 minute walk on the other). 

I got home and I cried and cried and cried. I barely ever cry (and I’d been on progesterone only for about 2 months so let’s not say it’s just hormones). I cried 5+ times a day for 4 days and I’m on that 4th day now. This included when I woke up and when I go to bed. I’ve cancelled all my plans because I’m so traumatised by it. I work in an emergency services and I see traumatic things most days and just crack on. I fear that people will tell me I’m being dramatic but I am not.

I’ve had panic attacks at the thought of having a smear test, iud removal, having sex, and even have researched how to remove it myself because I’m so scared. 

I was robbed of the opportunity to give informed consent, which is so damaging. This is especially true for me because the vagina is such an intimate place, and to be inflicted such harm, there, of all places, has been truly damaging and has bookmarked my life.

We have to start listening to women’s experiences and properly researching and recording their pain. Even if doctors want to (fallaciously) assume women have lower pain thresholds, then that doesn’t mean they should have more pain inflicted on them.

If patient As 10/10 pain is patient bs 5/10 pain, we shouldn’t be saying well let patient A be in agony then, because they’re weak. No they are not. This is there experience. Hear it.

The NHS has to do better.

The information leading up to the appointment has to explain the experience.

Painkillers beforehand should be recommended.

Doctors should be properly trained so that they can confidently insert iuds with anaesthetic so patients do not need to make a choice between pain and a successful insertion or less pain and an unsuccessful one.

If anyone knows of any current campaigns for better awareness, research, information and pain relief, please let me know.

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@ClaraR_ose Thank you for sharing your experience.

I am so sorry you went through such pain. 

At Patient Safety Learning we continue to call for more research and training in this area, and for all pain management options to be consistently offered to, and discussed with, women undergoing IUD procedures.

Most importantly we are calling for women to be listened to and their experiences routinely captured by health services so the extent of these experiences can be fully understood.

We have featured on the hub a couple of research projects around painful IUD procedures. Although both have now closed, I've copied the links below as both provide contact details from the leads on the research if you wanted to follow up with them and speak to them about their research and campaigns:

Coil procedures: Exploring negative experiences through qualitative research (an interview with Sabrina Pilav)

The pain of my IUD fitting was horrific…and I’m not alone


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