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 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 .

Advice from our service:

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

More details on the fitting of LARCs (coils and implants) at our service can be found here

If you need the combined contraceptive pill please try (if you can) to get updated measurements of your height, weight and blood pressure before calling us.

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.

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