- An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a highly effective form of birth control.
- You shouldn’t be able to feel an IUD during sex. Your partner may be able to feel the IUD strings.
- IUD strings can be trimmed by a healthcare professional.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is one of the most effective forms of contraception. Fewer than 1 person out of 100 who use an IUD will have an unplanned pregnancy.
A medical professional inserts an IUD into your uterus through your cervix. Once the insertion is complete, the IUD’s strings stay in your vagina. That’s so your doctor or nurse can remove the IUD when the time comes.
It’s natural to have questions about how an IUD might affect intimacy with your partner. Read on to get answers to common questions about IUDs and your sex life.
You shouldn’t feel your IUD during sex. The IUD is very small. When properly inserted, the device rests inside the uterus and only the strings are accessible in the vagina.
If you do feel the IUD, something may have gone wrong. It’s possible the IUD moved, or it wasn’t placed properly to begin with.
Talk with your doctor if you think you’re feeling your IUD during sex.
It’s rare for an IUD to fall out. This is called expulsion.
Sometimes the IUD does fall out or move, but there’s no greater chance of this happening during sex.
The IUD is most likely to come out of place during your period. Some doctors recommend checking the IUD’s strings once a month between periods to make sure it’s still in the right spot.
If the IUD has moved or falls out of the uterus, it no longer protects against becoming pregnant. It’s important to see a doctor to remove the IUD properly or reposition it correctly.
To be extra safe, you and your partner should take caution not to play with or tug on the strings.
Your partner may feel your IUD’s strings, but they shouldn’t cause pain. They’re very thin and made of plastic.
There’s some evidence that IUD strings can bother sexual partners. A 2017 study found that 3 to 9 percent of IUD users experienced partner dissatisfaction, causing them to stop using the IUD.
If your strings bother you or your partner, they may be too long.
Getting IUD strings trimmed
When the IUD is first inserted, the doctor or nurse practitioner trims the strings after the device is placed. If you want them shorter, they can trim the strings again at another appointment.
However, you may want to try waiting a bit longer. Over time, IUD strings become more flexible and often get tucked up next to your cervix. It’s also worth noting that having the strings cut shorter may make them stick out straight.
Some doctors cut the strings completely or very close to the cervix.
While this may solve the problem of feeling the string, it can also make it a bit more challenging when it’s time to remove the IUD because the string isn’t there to grasp for traction.
Your partner can finish inside the vagina. The IUD will still work to prevent pregnancy. The IUD is designed to stop you from getting pregnant even when there’s sperm present.
Depending on the type of IUD, it can
- preventing sperm from reaching the egg
- preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg
- preventing the egg from implanting in the womb
- causing the mucus of the cervix to thicken so sperm can’t reach the egg
- thinning the lining of the uterus
The IUD is highly effective at preventing pregnancy, but it doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are also referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
It’s recommended to use a condom with an IUD in order to reduce the risk of STIs.
Often a person doesn’t realize an IUD has moved out of place. By performing a self-check periodically, you may be able to feel if it’s not resting where it should be.
Your doctor should give you instructions on how to check the IUD at home. The steps may include the following:
- Wash your hands.
- Sit or squat.
- Place an index or middle finger into the vagina and touch the cervix.
- Feel around for the end of the strings.
There are a few signs to be aware of that indicate your IUD has moved:
- the strings feel longer or shorter than normal
- you can feel the hard part of the IUD against your cervix
- you feel the IUD at any time other than a self-check
- you experience pain, cramping, or bleeding
If anything feels different about your IUD, you can reach out to your doctor to get additional advice and guidance.
If the IUD isn’t in the right place, it may not be protecting against becoming pregnant, and you’ll need to use another form of birth control.
You should always feel comfortable reaching out to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns. But in particular, see your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- severe belly pain or cramping
- menstrual bleeding during intercourse
- pain during intercourse
- unexplained fever or chills
- unexplained or unusual vaginal odor or discharge
You can also talk with your doctor when you’re ready to consider pregnancy or if you want to change your method of contraception.
You should be able to become pregnant as soon as the doctor or nurse removes the IUD.
An IUD is a highly effective form of birth control. You or your partners shouldn’t feel an IUD during sex, although your partners may feel the strings.
Although rare, IUDs can move. If you experience symptoms of this or think it may have moved, you should see your doctor.
If the IUD isn’t in the right place, it doesn’t protect against becoming pregnant, and you should use a backup form of contraception.