What are IUD Strings?
An intrauterine device (IUD), also known as a copper T shot or Mirena, is a small T-shaped plastic rod inserted into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s most commonly used for women trying not to get pregnant after unprotected sexual activity. However, it may be used for other reasons such as preventing ovarian cysts and endometriosis.
The IUD is made from two pieces of metal connected with a thin flexible tube. It releases hormones which prevent fertilization when inserted into the womb. When removed, these hormones cause heavy bleeding, cramps and pain during menstruation.
How long does an IUD last?
It depends on how often you use it! Most women will have their IUDs removed within three years of insertion; however some women may need them longer than that. Some women may choose to keep their IUDs in place for life.
Is there anything wrong with using an IUD?
There is nothing wrong with using an IUD. The main reason why many women don’t want one is because they think it makes them less fertile, but this isn’t true. There are studies showing that having an IUD doesn’t affect fertility at all!
Ok, but it still doesn’t feel quite right.
What can I do?
If you’ve decided to use an IUD and experience problems with them, talk to your health care provider about them. While IUDs are very safe, there are some rare side effects that can result in complications. Some women have reported having longer and heavier periods, mood swings and headaches.
How to Check If IUD Is Properly Placed?
During your check-up 3-6 weeks after the procedure you may also ask your doctor to check if the IUD is in the right place. A good position of an IUD is low in the womb, below the top part of the uterus. You can check if your IUD is in place by feeling for the strings with your fingers. The strings should be hanging down from your cervix. You should be able to feel them through your vaginal opening. You can also check for the bottom of the IUD by feeling your abdomen and through your vaginal opening you may be able to feel the top of the IUD.
What are the strings for?
The strings are a way to remove or replace the IUD if necessary. They hang down from the cervix so that you or your doctor can find them during a regular check-up. The strings can also be felt at the opening of the uterus or at the top of your vaginal opening.
How can I know if the strings are long enough?
Your doctor should trim the strings so that you can feel them at your cervix and have them come out at your vaginal opening. Not all women can feel their strings or even know where their cervix is so don’t worry if you don’t feel or know where yours is located.
How to check if an IUD has come out or fallen out?
The strings are still your best bet for knowing if the IUD has fallen out or come out of your uterus. If you can’t feel the strings or they don’t reach your vaginal opening, you may have lost your IUD. Check with your doctor who will then do an ultrasound to see if the IUD is still in place.
The IUD has shifted and is no longer in the best position but I can’t feel the strings.
Can it still cause me problems?
If the IUD has shifted it may cause you some problems such as an infection or increased menstrual cramps. If you can’t feel the strings and think that you may have lost your IUD, visit your doctor immediately. An ultrasound will be able to tell if the device is still in place.
How do I check if my strings are long enough?
Most women can feel their own strings. The best way to find your strings is to become aware of where your vaginal opening and cervix are located. Feel for the tip of your cervix (the opening to your uterus) with the tip of your finger. Next, use your fingers to feel around for the top of your vaginal opening. The strings should be able to hang down from your cervix through your vaginal opening. You may want to ask your partner to help you find your strings or feel for them yourself.
The IUD is causing me pain or bleeding, what do I do?
If you are experiencing pain, cramping or heavy bleeding contact your doctor immediately. You IUD may have become dislodged and it’s causing you pain and discomfort. Cramping may be caused by the IUD itself as it moves around your uterus. Bleeding may be a sign your period has come early because the IUD is no longer protecting you from pregnancy.
What if I think my IUD has fallen out, will I need to get it replaced?
If you think your IUD has fallen out, contact your doctor immediately for an ultrasound to see if the device was still in place. If you cannot feel your strings or the top of the device doesn’t appear at the top of your vaginal opening, it may be that the IUD has fallen out.
Can you feel your IUD strings when you have your period?
For some women, strings are more visible during their period. Some women can see or feel their IUD strings all the time. If you are concerned that your strings are not long enough, check in with your doctor.
Sources & references used in this article:
Women’s questions after postabortion insertion of intrauterine contraception by JT Diedrich, EA Drey, C Dehlendorf, JE Steinauer – Contraception, 2013 – Elsevier
Practical tips for intrauterine device counseling, insertion, and pain relief in adolescents: an update by PJA Hillard – Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 2019 – Elsevier