November 22nd, 2010
10:03 AM ET

Is there a way to ease IUD insertion pain?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

From Janeer of Georgia

Last month as a birthday gift to myself, I scheduled an IUD. It hurt like the dickens and I didn't get the IUD. I'm 31, I have a steady boyfriend and I don't want to tie my tubes yet. Is there any way I can get an IUD without feeling excruciating pain?

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. To best help you, I consulted with Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB-gyn at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, California, and author of "The Preemie Primer: A Complete Guide for Parents of Premature Babies–from Birth through the Toddler Years and Beyond." She shared the following information:

An IUD is an excellent form of contraception. If you would like to try this method again, here are some ways to make the insertion a little less painful.

The pain of insertion is usually either from trying to pass the IUD through the cervix or from the uterus cramping in reaction to having the IUD in place.

To help reduce pain, it is helpful to schedule the IUD insertion during your period. At this time of the month the cervix is open just a little bit and can make all the difference in the world.

I recommend using a cervical block, meaning injecting anesthetics (numbing medication) in the cervix. That should take away any pain from stretching the cervix to insert the IUD. If the cervix is very tight (the doctor will know from the first insertion attempt) sometimes placing a medication called misoprostol in the vagina a few hours before the procedure can soften the cervix and make it easier to insert the IUD.

Finally, it can help to take ibuprofen at least 30 minutes before the procedure. This will reduce pain as well as any cramping that might occur afterwards. Since you had a lot of pain you might want to talk with your doctor about taking prescription-strength ibuprofen before the procedure."

Good luck!

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.