Check Your IUD Regularly
Modern intrauterine devices (IUDs) have come a long way since the 1980s, when they fell out of favor. Today's IUDs are safer and more effective than their predecessors. Even so, there are still some complications you may have to deal with. One of the main complications with IUDs is expulsion. In a small number of women, an IUD can be spontaneously expelled from the vagina or dislodged from its proper position. This is most common in women who have never had vaginal childbirth, and when the IUD was inserted soon after vaginal childbirth. It's recommended that you check for the string that hangs down from your IUD at least once a month (usually after your period) to make sure to make sure there aren't positioning problems. If the string is shorter, longer or you can't find it with your fingers, it's possible that your IUD has been displaced. When an IUD is not in its proper position, its effectiveness is compromised. Until you can be examined by your doctor, it's wise to use a back-up birth control method such as condoms to prevent pregnancy.
Understand the Pregnancy is a Possibility
There are two types of intrauterine devices currently in use in the United States--copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. Copper IUDs are slightly less effective than hormonal IUDs, with about six to eight out of 1,000 women getting pregnant with use. With hormonal IUDs only about one out of 1,000 women get pregnant with use. Even though the risk is relatively low that you will get pregnant while using either type of IUD, it's important to look for the signs of pregnancy anyway. If you are one of the few who do get pregnant while an IUD is in place, the IUD can present a risk to your pregnancy. In most cases, your doctor will recommend removing your IUD during your pregnancy (likely after the first trimester) to prevent miscarriage or premature birth. The removal itself can cause problems for the pregnancy, however. If you have an IUD and suspect that you might be pregnant, it's best to seek medical attention right away to determine the best way to proceed.
Use the Acronym PAINS to Know When to Call Your Doctor
Remembering the acronym "PAINS" can help you determine how to deal with problems you're experiencing with your IUD. Each letter corresponds to a symptom that indicates the need for prompt medical treatment. "P" stands for period. If you have a copper IUD and your period is late or abnormal, see your doctor. "A" stands for abdominal pain. This refers to menstrual cramps, pain during sex or just general abdominal pain. "I" stands for infection. If you suspect you have a vaginal infection or sexually transmitted disease, it's important to see a doctor quickly. IUDs can transmit infections deeper into the reproductive tract, which can cause serious problems. "N" stands for not feeling well. If you feel sick and have a fever, that could be an indicator of infection. "S" stands for strings from the IUD. As previously mentioned, whenever the strings from the IUD are not in the correct place, a trip to the doctor is recommended. One of more of these symptoms could indicate pregnancy, infection or another complication.