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Bleeding, Cramping, and Other Side Effects of IUD Insertion

Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Fred Layno · Updated Jun 20, 2022

    Bleeding, Cramping, and Other Side Effects of IUD Insertion

    First sold in the early 1970s, the Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD) has been a leading contraceptive device for 150 million women worldwide. This method is safe, fast, reversible, cheap, very effective, long-lasting (up to 20 years for some products), and non-hormonal. These features make it unique and desirable for many users. However, due to increased bleeding and pain, up to 15% of users remove the device during the first year. Higher percentages tolerate some of the side effects that occur after IUD insertion, but maintain the use of the method.

    Types of IUDs

    There are two types of IUDs available:

    Copper IUD

    It consists of a plastic device with copper around the shaft. Copper interferes with sperm motility and egg fertilization, and can also interfere with the implantation of fertilized eggs.

    Hormone IUD

    Releases the hormone progesterone, which thickens the cervical mucus and makes it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix. Progesterone also slows the growth of the endometrium, making it inconvenient to transplant fertilized eggs.

    Side Effects After IUD Insertion

    The most common side effects of an IUD insertion are pain, cramps, bleeding, and unwanted pregnancy.


    Bleeding is very common in almost all women after IUD insertion. It can range from occasional spotting to heavy bleeding. You can insert the IUD at any time during the menstrual cycle, but the low dilation of the cervix during your period makes it easier for doctors to insert the IUD.

    Be sure to wear a panty liner or sanitary napkin when going to your doctor. Spotting usually lasts up to 90 days, but bleeding can last up to 6 months. Some women with a hormonal IUD may eventually have no menstruation, while it is installed. But they may continue to have irregular menstruation if they have the copper IUD.

    Talk to your doctor if the bleeding persists.


    Cramps or spasms occur frequently after inserting the IUD. This is because the cervix has to open to allow the IUD to pass through. The degree of cramps varies widely from low back pain to severely deviant pelvic pain.

    Women who have previously given vaginal birth tend to have less pain. For some women, the cramps disappear immediately. Others may feel discomfort that usually lasts for hours or days. The cramps usually go away completely within 3-6 months. Persistent cramps usually occur more often with copper-added IUDs.

    Analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Alive) can relieve cramps. But make sure that the optimal dose, duration of administration, and non-interaction to relieve cramps. Please consult your doctor before taking other medicines. Warm pads, hot water bottles, exercise, and drinking rosehip tea are also helpful.

    Unwanted pregnancy

    The IUD is more than 99% effective when inserted correctly and stays in place.

    The copper IUD immediately takes effect and can also be used for emergency contraception if inserted within 5 days after unprotected sexual intercourse. The hormone IUD is only effective immediately if it is placed within the first 7 days of menstruation. Otherwise, if you have sex within 7 days of applying, you should use a condom.

    Cases of pregnancy with an IUD can be rare. But if you do become pregnant while you have an IUD inserted, contact your doctor immediately to have it removed.

    Misunderstandings About IUDs and IUD Insertion

    The modern version of the IUD is pretty safe, but many still have doubts about it. Dr. Ashley Brandt, Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist of Cleveland Clinic, says that she regularly hears patients’ concerns about the movement of the IUD through the uterine wall to the abdomen. “Even though it seems like almost everybody knows somebody to whom that’s happened, it’s actually a pretty rare complication,” she says. If the uterus is torn, movement can occur, usually using an instrument during IUD insertion. However, these uterine perforations occur only in 0.01% of cases.

    Other serious complications of the IUD are also rare. Around 1% of women experience pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) within the first 20 days after IUD insertion. There are other rare side effects that women report from the hormone IUD, such as weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, and acne. Currently, there is not enough research to support or disprove the clear relationship between the two.

    Learn more about Contraception here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Fred Layno · Updated Jun 20, 2022

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