You may have heard that you need to wait anything from 1 to 2 weeks or more to have sex after getting an intrauterine device (IUD). Although these guidelines may benefit some, they don’t apply to everyone. What’s best for you may differ from what’s best for others.

Your healthcare professional can give some personalized advice, as it may be safer for certain people to wait —for example, those who’ve recently given birth.

If you don’t fall into this category, you can have sex whenever you feel ready, though you may need to use backup birth control until the IUD kicks in.

Read on for some of the reasons you may want to consider waiting.

After getting your IUD, you may experience some pain and cramping.

These difficulties can last for a few weeks but tend to be worse for the first couple of days, potentially making sex uncomfortable.

Some people also have spotting between periods or heavier bleeding during them. These effects can last several months.

Periods tend to reduce or disappear completely with the hormone IUDs. But if you have the copper IUD, you may have heavier periods while the IUD remains inside your body.

One of the big reasons some people avoid having sex straight away is because their type of IUD may take some time to prevent pregnancies.

You can get immediate protection if you have a copper IUD, known as ParaGard. But a hormonal IUD is only effective right away if a healthcare professional inserts it within the first 7 days of a period. If inserted at any other time, they can take up to 7 days to start working properly.

You can still choose to have sex, even if your IUD isn’t fully effective yet. But it’s a good idea to use a backup form of birth control like condoms.

There’s a small increased risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if you have an IUD. The risk is highest during the first 3 weeks after getting the IUD.

PID is an infection of your reproductive system that causes symptoms like:

  • pelvic or lower abdominal pain
  • pain during penetration
  • bleeding after sexual activity and between periods
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • a burning sensation when urinating

You can treat PID with antibiotics if you receive an early diagnosis. Without treatment, there’s a higher risk of infertility.

If you get an IUD insertion within the first 4 weeks of giving birth, there’s a higher chance it can fall out of place or perforate another body part.

A 2020 research review found that the IUD expulsion rate dropped to 1.8% if participants received their device insertions 1 month postpartum and to around 13% if participants received them within 72 hours postpartum.

A study cited in a 2023 research review noted that higher perforation rates occurred when participants received IUD insertions between 4 days and 6 weeks postpartum. On the other hand, the risk of this is usually low overall.

It’s highly unlikely sex can dislodge the IUD. However, some people may prefer to wait until their risk of expulsion or perforation is lower before having sex again.

If you experience any of the following within a few weeks of IUD insertion, consult a doctor or another healthcare professional as soon as possible:

  • fever or chills
  • severe or sharp pain in your stomach
  • unusual vaginal discharge

Also, book an appointment if you have these symptoms at any time:

  • pain during or after sexual activity
  • spotting after sexual activity
  • a late period if you have a copper IUD
  • pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea or breast tenderness, or a positive pregnancy test

When it comes to having sex with a new IUD, there’s no wrong or right time. Healthcare professionals can advise you, but it’s largely about what you’re comfortable with.

If you want to wait, then do that. But if you feel up to sex soon after getting your IUD, then there’s usually no issue with that, either.

Lauren Sharkey is a U.K.-based journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.