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Feminism: chat

IUD birth control and being called "dramatic"

144 replies

FlowerTomb · 11/03/2022 10:19

I’ve seen yet more posts (mainly on Tiktok, Twitter etc) about the pain involved in having IUD birth control coils fitted. I don’t have one and don’t plan on ever getting one, but I’m just absolutely gobsmacked that not that many doctors seem to be taking this seriously. I’ve seen time and time again that no pain medication is offered, that it’s being sold as “painless” and when spoken about with the doctor, the result is that you’re called “dramatic”.

I don’t actually know anyone (to my knowledge) that has one, so I’m just wondering about others’ opinions really. Is anyone else very shocked (and pissed off!) about this, or is this just part and parcel with women’s health not being taken seriously and this whole situation is very unsurprising to the majority?

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titchy · 11/03/2022 10:22

Weirdly I know quite a few people with them! None thought the insertion was particularly painful, similar to a smear perhaps, which was about the level of pain I felt. I was told to take a couple of paracetamol beforehand though which I did. Maybe TikTok posters are being a little dramatic?


napody · 11/03/2022 10:26

Mine was OK... uncomfortable but then I've had two kids (uncomplicated births). Friends who had them before kids found insertion/removal pretty traumatic. I was too scared to have one pre kids and I imagine a lot of the tik tok posters are young women without kids. My doctor is also a really nice woman who said beforehand if it hurt she'd just stop which was reassuring and I had a nurse holding my hand! Some doctors can definitely be very dismissive of 'women's pain' as anyone with endometriosis will tell you.


Ringmaster27 · 11/03/2022 10:29

I had an appointment to get one fitted abojt 6 months ago.
I was fine initially, but then the dr applied the “clamp” Hmm that holds your cervix open and I nearly vomited from the shock of pain. Searing, unbelievable pain Thag I was not remotely expecting. I asked her to stop and didn’t end up getting the coil fitted.
Personally I think it’s a barbaric procedure to expect women to endure without some kind of local anaesthetic. I definitely won’t be attempting it again.


FlowerTomb · 11/03/2022 10:31

The majority of women I've seen speak about it on Tiktok had 1 or more children and said it was more painful than their experience with childbirth. I don't know what the procedure is in the UK, but these women were from a variety of places (US, Germany, Italy etc) and just the whole process from beginning to end was described as "painful and traumatic" (traumatic was mainly due to the doctors dismissing their pain).

I understand pain is a very personal thing and some women have had positive experiences, I mean even things like piercings and tattoos are different for everyone (my best friend falls asleep during tattoos, I have seen it happen!) but it certainly seems that enough people are speaking out about it that it doesn't appear to be a simple case of "they're dramatic".

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meloncolic · 11/03/2022 10:33

Oh gosh, much more painful than a smear here, and somehow very vulnerable-making! I can’t remember if I have a high or tilted cervix or something. I went into shock and blacked out on the pavement outside the clinic after one insertion.

Unfortunately for me I am of the generation that 100% was expected to suck it up and bear it for the benefit of reliable, non hormonal, set-and-forget contraception. Although there may be ways and times that I get eyerolly about the things women 25 years younger than me have high expectations of things, this is NOT one of them, and better/kinder insertion would make this a fabulous option for many women, not least in countries where contraception is controlled. My last insertion was by a fabulous woman doctor 12 weeks after csection with full pain control (gel on cervix plus I had taken something) and was easy peasy.

In fact now that I reflect, all young women should be incredibly demanding of whatever they reasonably want to take care of their own health.


Lessyuck · 11/03/2022 10:35

@Ringmaster27 Same here, I've had two kids vaginally. Would rather give birth again unmedicated than have an IUD fitted without local anaesthetic.


FlowerTomb · 11/03/2022 10:37

Ringmaster27 and meloncolic Your experiences are more of the "norm" that I've heard in regard to pain. If there's even a chance of something like that happening to people, I don't understand why they don't provide local anaesthetic! It's also insane that some of these women were told that the procedure was "mildly invasive and completely painless" - it's not!

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Ringmaster27 · 11/03/2022 10:38

@Lessyuck I’ve had 3 babies vaginally, all drug free, two of them homebirths.
I’m an abuse survivor and struggle with medical professionals being “down there” anyway - to the point where I had my middle and youngest DCs without a single examination because I couldn’t bear it after the trauma of my first hospital birth.
I’m generally ok with pain - unmedicated childbirth, numerous large tattoos, some pretty gnarly sports and work related injuries over the years….but the pain I felt that day was like no other I’ve ever felt Sad


FlowerTomb · 11/03/2022 10:38

Oh and the ages of the women speaking about this on tiktok are VERY varied, some in their twenties, but most are in their thirties and fourties.

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HelpMeHiveMind · 11/03/2022 10:44

I sort of agree that there should be much more transparency about these - OK, some people get lucky and find them painless, but for some it is a major and invasive procedure. Women need to be fully prepared for that and, frankly, their partners also need to understand what is being undertaken. I had one many years ago and even after having a child, it was a very traumatic procedure. The pain was far worse than childbirth, I wasn't prepared for it because I'd been told it would "just be a short moment of discomfort" and I also blacked out afterwards. I spent the rest of the day with excruciating cramps. The blasted thing also went AWOL after 2.5 years and I was very lucky it didn't perforate my womb.

Could these not be done with anaesthetic?


napody · 11/03/2022 10:48


Oh and the ages of the women speaking about this on tiktok are VERY varied, some in their twenties, but most are in their thirties and fourties.

I'm glad they are speaking up. That's awful to hear. I can't remember my own doctor's discussion too clearly but I have a vague memory of her saying that if it hurt and she stopped, there was an option of having it fitted in a sexual health clinic under local? I'm in Wales so not sure if that's widely offered, but sounds as if it definitely should be.

SunshineThelma · 11/03/2022 10:49

I had my first fitted in hospital with a local anaesthetic, which was uncomfortable but fine. Sadly after a couple of years it slipped and was causing me issues, so had to come out and be replaced. I voiced with my GP beforehand that I was worried it would be painful, and was told they'd do everything they could to make it ok. Not reassured, I also rang the day before the procedure and was again told they'd look after me.
On the day, there was no pain relief. It took two attempts to yank out the wonky coil and I was nearly sick from the pain. She started setting up for the new one and got out 'the clamp', which I was told would be a 'pinch' but was a deep and visceral pain I've not known before and again had me on the verge of throwing up. Two attempts and I had to ask her to stop. It was horrific.
Now I'm on the referral list to have it at the hospital, but five months later wondering if actually I can do without rather than go through it again.


NeverDropYourMooncup · 11/03/2022 10:51

The people who didn't experience pain and distress wouldn't be posting TikToks about it, though.

When I had coils (copper and then a Mirena), I just felt a little pressure and it was done; the GP insisting that I stayed flat for a couple of minutes afterwards before getting up was confusing to me because I needed to go and get on with my day. But I don't have any difficulty with smears, either - when they used to use the big metal speculum and crank it up, that felt very strange, but in recent years, I've barely felt them.

That doesn't mean smears aren't distressing or painful for other women, just that they're fine for me - so I wouldn't be posting anything - this is literally an example of a self selecting sample.


GrammarTeacher · 11/03/2022 10:53

I found it mildly uncomfortable. Not a big deal for me at all. But I have been told that I have high threshold for pain and wouldn't extrapolate from my experience to everyone anyway.


FlowerTomb · 11/03/2022 10:57

Neverdropyourmooncup (your name made me chuckle). You're right, they wouldn't, however Tiktok is just one area that I've seen it spoken about (although the comment section is filled with a variety of different experiences, but majority still experienced quite intense pain). The other places I've seen it being discussed also has a very obvious majority of women with bad experiences, unfortunately.

A really awful video did do the rounds recently - it was a video of the "clamp" being used on a silicone vagina to show the procedure and the clamp actually punctures the skin, it seemed to have 2 sharp prongs that kind of looked like sharp thick and short needles that literally went through the skin. How any doctor can consider that to be painless is beyond me. As I said though, I've no idea on the different techniques and tools being used for this procedure so maybe they don't use the pointy clamps on everyone.

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WhyPaulMemory · 11/03/2022 11:06

My doctor suggested the coil to me numerous times - the very thought of it makes me cross my legs! I appreciate that some women do find it painless, but I just don't get why so many gynaecological procedures are expected to be undertaken with no pain relief! I've had quite a few gynae issues (precancerous cells removed from cervix, hysteroscopy and polyp removal, uroscopy) and each time I've insisted on general anaesthetic. Local anaesthetic injected into my cervix? - no thanks! The doctor in that case said I was making a fuss about nothing and said it was no worse than an injection in your gum. Yeah, right. I know GA is not without risks, but I really think there's a put up and shut up attitude to women and it enrages me.


JesusMaryAndJosephAndTheWeeDon · 11/03/2022 11:11

I had mine inserted having never been pregnant, as a result I was sent to the family planning clinic rather than the GP doing it.

I took painkillers before the appointment as advised. It was painful, similar to a smear but worse, not unbearable or unreasonable though.

I walked back to the office and did an afternoon's work afterwards feeling slightly uncomfortable. I had some strong cramps that evening for which I took paracetamol and wished I had a hot water bottle. The next day I had some mild crampy feelings.

I had no pain after the first 24-48 hours. I did experience quite a bit of unpredictable spotting for the first month or so which the doctor treated with Norethisterone.

After it settled I had no trouble at all and found the IUD very convenient.

Removal was no issue, less uncomfortable than a smear, a real "was that it!?" experience.


pawpaws2022 · 11/03/2022 11:13


Wnikat · 11/03/2022 11:14

I had one before kids and it was fucking agony so yes I agree with you.

Had one after kids, no problem!


WhyPaulMemory · 11/03/2022 11:15

Oh yes, I forgot about the time at the follow-up appointment after the hysteroscopy where the dr put silver nitrite on my cervix - it might feel a bit uncomfortable, he said. I vomited from the pain and had to lie there for 20 minutes after as I was so light-headed I couldn't sit up. They gave me some paracetamol! It was absolute agony, had to take codeine when I got home. It was to stop the bleeding after he did a (bad) smear - never had this issue when a nurse did one. If you ever get told to have this, refuse!


user1493494961 · 11/03/2022 11:17

I had IUDs for years and can't remember it being particular painful when they were inserted or removed. When I went to have it removed for the final time, the GP found two in there, one of which was a real museum piece (he'd never seen one like it).


Gloschick · 11/03/2022 11:25

It is wrong for anyone to say it is painless, but there isn't an easy solution, so it is also wrong to turn it into a women being mistreated thing. You can have a local anaesthetic injection, but this is painful in itself, and I can say from personal experience that it is still v painful despite having an injection. In recent years there has been an anaesthetic spray available in addition to the gel. This is an improvement although there is still a good chance of if being painful. That said it is a few minutes of bad period like cramps. I think this is still preferable to risking a general anaesthetic.


TonyBravo · 11/03/2022 11:27

I had mine done in a GUM clinic by a very experienced gyne dr, it was in before I even knew it had taken place (not sure what that says about me) but they just knew the easiest way to do it, no sitting on my fists, it was stirrups, swab, in. I was shocked when they said it was done. I think experienced, confident drs help. It should 100% be taken seriously though. There's no excuse for anyone to be in pain these days.


brokengoalposts · 11/03/2022 11:40

I had one put in, relatively painless and fine. The threads then disappeared into uterus, when I had to have it removed 5 years later, I had to go to outpatients, the absolute hellish pain when they were digging around in my uterus to find it was worse than childbirth, I fainted and was in so much pain I had stay in a hospital bed for 3 hours. They put another in at the same time, I begged that they left the threads longer this time.


PGReader · 11/03/2022 11:42

@Gloschick obviously it depends on health conditions of each individual but a general anaesthetic is not on the whole risky. Risk of death around 1in 200000, problem is there wouldn’t be capacity to do them all under GA. I do have a friend who has had them three times under GA

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