Does it hurt to have an IUC (coil) fitted?

posted by: Frances Mutter

Recent media reports have highlighted cases of some women who have experienced distressing intrauterine contraception (IUC) fitting.

Some women barely feel anything whilst having a coil fitted.  However, for some, it can be a painful experience, undergoing period like cramps for several days after the fit.

Who is going to feel pain?

It is impossible to know with certainty, who will experience pain or discomfort during an IUC fit.  Most women who have coils fitted at our service leave after their 30-minute appointment feeling fine.

Does taking pain relief help?

There is very little evidence on the benefits of pain relief during IUC fitting.

Studies suggest the majority of individuals report that pain during IUC fitting is mild or moderate rather than severe, even without taking of pain killers. Five minutes after insertion, pain scores are low. In studies reporting both pain scores and a description of the experience, moderate pain scores match up with descriptions of discomfort rather than pain.

Before your coil is fitted here at our service, we always advise several things  to help reduce any pain or discomfort.

Take two paracetamol (2 x 500mgs) and two ibuprofen ( 2 x 200mgs), if you don’t have any allergies to these, one hour before your appointment. Taking these together can work very well as effective pain relief.  Make sure you have had something substantial to eat prior to this so you are not taking pain relief on an empty stomach.   Eating can also minimise any feelings of  light-headedness after.

What to expect at Devon Sexual Health.

  • At our clinic, we are all mindful of making this experience as comfortable as possible for you.
  • In the clinic room there will be the nurse or doctor who is going to fit your coil, and an assistant. The assistant is there to support you.
  • The clinician who will fit your coil will talk you through every step.  You are in control the whole time – if you want us to stop at any stage, we will.
  • We use a local anaesthetic gel to the neck of your womb prior to inserting the coil. Our coil fitters are all very experienced with fitting coils and fit many coils regularly.
  • We can provide a cervical block (a local anaesthetic injection into the cervix) for the very few women who need one.
  • Most women feel fine after the procedure but we do have a quiet room you can lie down after if you don’t quite feel ready to leave immediately.

What to expect after a coil fit.

It is normal to experience period like cramps after the procedure. We provide you with verbal and written instructions explaining what is usual to expect after and who to contact if you are worried. We also suggest taking regular pain relief afterwards, particularly ibuprofen, until these cramps have eased up.  A hot water bottle can also help.

 

Both the copper and hormonal intrauterine coils provide very reliable, convenient, reversible contraception. Hormonal coils  offer help to improve heavy or painful menstrual bleeding.  Copper coils are an effective hormone-free contraceptive option.

We have all heard negative stories about coils.  But we rarely hear or listen to all us women who are really happy with this method of contraception, with the fitting of the coil much better than they believed.

So don’t delay, contact us, and we can talk you through your options and any questions you might have about contraception.

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Accessing our service

In response to the emergence of COVID-19 we have implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

We are currently experiencing high demand for our Sexual Health Services across Devon and Torbay with unprecedented demand in Exeter. Please note always review urgent cases the same day. If your need is urgent and you are struggling to reach us keep trying as our phone system will explain how to access same-day care with us.

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

Self-requested STI testing by post is available for those aged under 25- more info

We are now running an under 18’s sit and wait clinic at Exeter, Torquay, and Barnstaple for more information click here

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

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