What to expect following your contraceptive coil fit

Immediately after your contraceptive coil fit it is normal to experience some period-like symptoms such as stomach cramps and some bleeding. You may find the cramps continue for a few hours or a few days and the bleeding can be light, such as pink or brown spotting, or red and a little heavier.

You can relieve the cramps by taking paracetamol, ibuprofen or whichever type of painkillers you normally take.

How long do the pain and cramps last for?

Some people are fine after  having a contraceptive coil fitting and go straight back to work/college. Others are more uncomfortable and may need to rest for a few hours. You must do what is best for you.

The most important thing about bleeding and pain after a coil fitting is that it stays the same or reduces, so you know things are headed in the right direction. If your pain and bleeding suddenly increase that could be a sign of infection or that the coil is slipping so you need to see a doctor or nurse as soon as possible and ideally within 24 hours.

If by three weeks after the fitting everything has settled down, then that is a good time to check your coil strings. You can do this by putting one or two fingers in the vagina and finding your cervix (which feels like your nose). The strings will be at the top of the vagina though may be tucked around your cervix. If you feel fine and can feel your coil strings then you do not need to see a doctor or nurse for a check. If you cannot feel your strings or are worried about anything, then you can arrange to see a doctor or nurse for a coil check.

Guidelines for what you can do and when after having a contraceptive coil fitted.

  • Sex – we would advise waiting for 24 hours before having sex to allow the coil to settle (check with the doctor or nurse if your coil works immediately or if you need to continue using additional contraception)
  • Tampons – in the first 24 hours use a pad if you need to. This will give the coil time to settle.
  • Moon cups – manufacturers recommend delaying use of a moon cup for six weeks after having a coil fitted. They also recommend that you make sure the cup is low in the vagina and that you  break the seal before you remove it.
  • Relying on the coil for contraception – ask your doctor or nurse when you can use the coil for contraception. Sometimes it is straightaway but sometimes you need additional contraception for seven days. If you forget to ask it’s best to just use additional contraception for seven days.
  • Exercise including swimming – it is best to wait 24 – 48 hours before exercise to let the coil settle. If you are still experiencing pain after the fitting it is best to wait until that stops.
  • Gym plates – it is advised that you should wait for 6 weeks after the coil is fitted before using gym plates.
  • X-rays including an MRI – having an Xray including an MRI is generally fine but always tell the person doing your Xray or scan that you have a coil.

If you are ever worried that your coil has moved or if you can’t feel the strings then get advice from a sexual health service or doctor.

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info