As a method of birth control, an intrauterine device (IUD) has many advantages. For one thing, once in place, it can last for several years. It’s also reversible: When you’re ready to start a family, your health care provider can remove it.
The IUD has several disadvantages. But a problem that sometimes occurs is “missing string.” That means you can’t see the wire attached to the IUD (like a tampon).
This article will help you learn how to check the IUD cord to make sure your IUD stays in place.
Why did the IUD disappear?
You may have trouble finding your IUD string for a number of reasons, such as:
- The strings have moved: Usually, when the IUD is lost, it just means that the cord has retracted back into the cervical canal or uterus. You don’t need to do anything about this, but the wires can be put back easily during a pelvic exam. Your healthcare provider will use a special tool called a cervical cytology brush to locate the strings and move them back to where they were.
- Pregnancy: The IUD is highly effective, but not perfect. In very rare cases, the IUD may disappear due to pregnancy.
- Uterine perforation: Uterine perforation is a hole in the uterus. This is an uncommon but serious complication that can occur with the use of an IUD.
- Expulsion of the IUD: The IUD may be missing if the entire IUD comes out of the uterus. Expulsion of the IUD puts you at risk of pregnancy. Because losing an IUD doesn’t always cause symptoms, checking in occasionally to make sure the cord is still there can be helpful.
How to check your IUD
The IUD is a small, plastic T-shaped device. The device is coated with copper (eg, ParaGard) or contains the hormone progestin (eg, Mirena).
When your healthcare provider places the IUD, the device will be placed inside the uterus and the IUD’s wires (made of plastic fibers) will hang outside the cervix, resting on the top of the uterus. high in the vagina.
When checking your IUD string, follow these steps:
- Determine cervical position: While sitting or squatting, insert your index or middle finger into the vagina until it touches the cervix. Your cervix will feel firm and rubbery, like the tip of your nose.
- Feel about the IUD wires: They will pass through your cervix. If you feel wired, your IUD is in place and should work.
- Determine if strings have moved: If the cord is longer or shorter than the last time you checked, or if you feel the hard part of the IUD against your cervix, your IUD may have moved. In this case, it will need to be reset by your healthcare provider.
- Use backup contraception: If you’re worried your IUD has moved, use a backup method of birth control until you see your healthcare provider. They may ask you to take a pregnancy test if you haven’t already. If your healthcare provider is unable to identify the cords during a pelvic exam, they may order imaging tests. A pelvic ultrasound is often used to locate the IUD (if the IUD has not been expelled).
Don’t try to push the IUD back on yourself. Also, never pull on your IUD — this could cause it to become misaligned or come out.
How long to check
IUD movement out of position usually occurs during the first few months after insertion or during menstruation.
You can check your series once a month, between intervals. Since there’s a good chance your IUD will come off during your period, check your pads or tampons to make sure your IUD hasn’t come off.
Important notes about the IUD
If your IUD has partially slipped, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to have it removed. Don’t remove it yourself.
Most of the unwanted pregnancies that happen to IUD users happen if the IUD slips out unnoticed.
The chance of getting pregnant with an IUD is extremely low. However, if that happens, you should remove the IUD as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
Pregnant women who choose to have an IUD must be under close medical supervision throughout their pregnancy. That’s because of an increased risk of pelvic infection, stillbirth, poor fetal growth, miscarriage, labor, and premature delivery.
Shorten the string
You can ask to cut the IUD cord shorter if your partner can feel it. Keep in mind that sometimes the IUD cord is cut so short that you may not be able to test it. Make sure your health care provider has checked your IUD during your routine pelvic exam.
Some people mistakenly believe that they need to remove the IUD if they switch partners. This is a legend. Your IUD will continue to work, no matter how many sex partners you have.
The IUD is a safe, reliable form of birth control. However, there are risks and downsides to all birth control methods. One of the concerns with IUDs is that they can sometimes move out of place. Checking the IUD regularly can help you see if your IUD has moved.
If you can’t find your IUD cord or if the cords seem to be in a different place from the last time you checked, contact your healthcare provider to have them checked. Never remove or reinstall the IUD yourself. And until you can get to your healthcare provider, be sure to use backup birth control.
frequently asked Questions
Can I use tampons if I have an IUD?
Right. The IUD will be placed in the uterus, so it is not in the vagina where the tampon was inserted. The insertion and removal of tampons should not affect the IUD.
Can you remove your own IUD with a wire?
Some women can remove the IUD on their own at home. However, there are risks to trying to take it out on your own; The most common is that it will not come out completely but will only change. In those cases, it’s important to see your healthcare provider and remove the IUD properly.
How often do I need to check IUD strings?
Manufacturers recommend that healthcare providers instruct patients to feel the IUD’s wires once a month at home. Doing so can help you determine if the IUD has moved and misplaced.
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