Intrauterine Device (IUD): Dealing Day-to-Day

Once an IUD has been inserted, there is very little care involved with the device. You will need to be seen for a follow-up visit with your physician three months after you have the IUD implanted. After this visit, the most important factor is to ensure the IUD remains in place and has not become dislodged. You should also be aware of any signs of infection or medical problems that could be associated with the IUD.

1. Check the placement of your IUD at least once a month.

Healthcare professionals recommend that women monitor the status of their IUD with self-examinations. Each month following your menstrual period, you should determine if the IUD is in place by the presence of the attached string. This can be accomplished with a few simple steps.

First, wash your hands thoroughly to avoid introducing any bacteria into the vagina. Next, assume a relaxed position that will allow you to access your vagina. Many women find that squatting or placing one leg on a stool is a good position for this purpose. Some women also find it useful to use a mirror as guidance.

Once you are comfortable, gently insert your middle finger into your vagina and move it up towards the cervix. You should be able to feel the string that is attached to the IUD in your uterus. You will most likely be unable to see the string but you will be able to locate it with your finger. This string hangs from the IUD for monitoring of the placement and removal when necessary.

When you feel the string, it is important that you do not pull on it. This can dislodge your IUD and can result it no birth control protection as well as other medical complications. If you do not feel the string, you should contact your physician for a thorough examination. Your doctor will determine if the IUD has been dislodged from the uterus. You should also use an alternative form of birth control.

Once an IUD is dislodged from your uterus, you will not be protected from pregnancy. You will need some other form of contraception until you have been examined by your physician and the IUD (or a new one) is inserted. You may use temporary measures, such as condoms or spermicides, for contraceptive protection.

2. Be aware of any signs of infection.

Although an IUD does not increase your risk of infections, it is important to closely monitor your gynecological health. Bacteria can travel up the string attached to the IUD into your uterus. You should follow general recommendations for good genital hygiene, such as wiping from front to back after toileting. In addition, you should change your tampons or sanitary pads often to avoid the build-up of bacteria in that area.

If you experience fever, nausea or pain, you should contact your physician for a complete gynecological examination. In some cases, you may notice unusual vaginal discharge that can have a foul smell. An infection that is present in your reproductive system needs to be treated to avoid further medical complications.

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