Does Having a Coil Fitted Hurt? Your Guide to IUD Insertion

BlogContraceptive Coils

Written by

Catherine Smith

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Did you know that intrauterine devices (IUDs), often called coils, boast an efficacy rate of over 99% in preventing pregnancy? This makes them one of the most reliable forms of long-term birth control available today. However, the question of pain during and after IUD insertion can be a concern for many. The process, although usually quick, involves placing the device inside the uterus. This can feel similar to the discomfortof menstrual cramps.

Different types of coils, such as the copper coil and hormonal IUDs like the Mirena coil, function uniquely but share the common goal of preventing pregnancy. Copper coils hinder fertilisation by creating a spermicidal environment, while hormonal IUDs release progestogen to alter cervical mucus and the uterine lining. The level of discomfort during IUD insertion varies from person to person, but clinics like The Coil Clinic implement pain management strategies that include ibuprofen or paracetamol and ensure a recovery period post-procedure, showcasing a patient-centred approach to your sexual and reproductive health.

Key Takeaways

  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Types of IUDs include copper and hormonal variants like the Mirena coil.
  • Discomfort levels during insertion are generally tolerable, resembling menstrual cramps.
  • The Coil Clinic uses pre-procedure medication to manage pain effectively.
  • A recovery period post-procedure is provided to ensure patient comfort and care.

Introduction to IUD Coil Fitting

Coil fitting is a relatively straightforward medical procedure used for effective birth control. During the process, a small, T-shaped device is placed into your uterus. This device, known as an intrauterine device (IUD), may be made of copper or contain hormones, depending on the type chosen.

The procedure usually begins with a speculum examination to allow the healthcare professional to visualise your cervix. This is followed by the insertion of the coil using a specialised tool. Although some individuals may experience coil insertion pain, the discomfort level typically varies from person to person and is often manageable.

Here at The Coil Clinic, our doctors are trained to ensure you receive the appropriate support and care during the procedure. After fitting, you will receive guidance on aftercare, which is crucial for making the adjustment to your new coil as smooth and comfortable as possible.

With a high efficacy rate, IUDs effectively prevent pregnancy by utilising either copper’s spermicidal properties or hormones to create an environment that inhibits fertilisation. Our clinic provides comprehensive support throughout the process, ensuring that patients receive the best personalised care.

Types of Coils: Copper vs Hormonal

If you’re considering an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception, understanding the differences between copper and hormonal options is crucial. Each type offers unique benefits and caters to varying needs, from non-hormonal solutions to aid in copper coil insertion pain, to hormonal methods that could play a role in hormone replacement therapy.

Copper Coil

The copper coil, or Cu-IUD, is a popular non-hormonal contraception method due to its long-term efficacy and minimal maintenance. This intrauterine device operates through the spermicidal properties of copper, which obstructs sperm mobility, preventing fertilisation. The copper coil does not influence your menstrual cycle, making it an appealing option for those who prefer to avoid hormonal interference. Moreover, it serves as an emergency contraceptive and remains effective for up to 10 years. It’s essential to discuss the appropriate size and type with healthcare providers to ensure optimal fit and comfort.

Hormonal Coil

On the other hand, hormonal IUDs like Mirena, Levosert, Kyleena, and Jaydess release levonorgestrel, a progesterone analogue that thickens cervical mucus and thins the lining of the womb. This process not only reduces sperm entry but also helps manage heavy periods, and is sometimes used as part of hormone replacement therapy. These hormonal intrauterine devices vary in dosage and duration, typically lasting between 3 and 8 years. As with the copper coil, discussing the best option with a specialist contraceptive doctor to find a solution aligned with your individual needs.

The Coil Fitting Procedure

Initially, a comprehensive medical history review is undertaken to ensure suitability and readiness. This is followed by the use of a speculum (medicine) to open and examine the cervix, a process comparable to cervical screening. This helps the clinician to visualise the cervix effectively.

Once the speculum is in place, the coil is gently inserted through the vagina and positioned correctly within the uterus. While some individuals might experience coil insertion procedure pain similar to that of menstrual cramps, pain management is readily available. This can include the application of local anaesthetic to minimise discomfort.

The entire procedure is usually brief, often completed within a few minutes. After the insertion, you might be advised to check the coil’s strings periodically to ensure it is in place. Nursing staff and clinicians are on hand to offer guidance on how best to monitor the coil’s presence.

Depending on the type of intrauterine device (IUD) fitted, its contraceptive efficacy may be immediate or might take up to a week. Whether recently having undergone childbirth or not, many individuals successfully transition to using a coil with tailored support and effective pain management strategies.

Does Having a Coil Fitted Hurt?

Experiencing discomfort during coil fitting is quite common, with sensations varying significantly from one individual to another. However, numerous pain management options are available to make the process as comfortable as possible.

Pain Management Options

We recommend that prior to your procedureyou take either non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or paracetamol in order to minimise discomfort and provide pain relief. For those seeking more potent solutions, local anesthetic gels like Instillagel and Xylocaine spray can be applied to numb the area.

We also provide extended appointment lengths allowing us to address any anxieties you may have and offer ample recovery time, thereby enhancing the overall patient experience.

Side Effects and Aftercare

After having a coil fitted, it is common to experience some minor side effects. Many women report cramping or irregular bleeding in the days following the procedure. These side effects of coil fitting are usually manageable and subside quickly.

When opting for a hormonal intrauterine device, you may encounter additional symptoms such as acne, mood changes, or breast tenderness. These hormonal fluctuations can sometimes lead to lightheadedness or other mild discomforts.

It is recommended to rest for the remainder of the fitting day and utilise painkillers like ibuprofen to alleviate any cramping. Monitoring for unusual symptoms is crucial; should you experience heavy bleeding or persisting pain, you should seek advice.

Proper aftercare also involves checking the coil’s threads regularly to ensure it remains in place. We would recommend that you either check your threads yourself or attend to have them checked at about 6 weeks following insertion. 

When to Consult a Healthcare Professional

Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial when considering coil insertion, understanding suitability, and managing post-insertion care. Many women, including those without children, are suitable for IUDs, but certain medical conditions may necessitate specific care. Engaging with a professional ensures informed decisions regarding your sexual and reproductive health.

Who Should Get a Coil Fitted?

A contraception consultation with us at The Coil Clinic can help determine if a coil is right for you. Factors such as medical history, lifestyle, and family planning goals are essential considerations. 

Removal and Follow-up

Should you wish to remove your IUD, a healthcare specialist can perform this quickly and safely, typically with minimal discomfort. Removal of IUD can occur at any point in your cycle, but using another form of contraception for seven days before removal is advised to prevent pregnancy. Post-removal, fertility generally returns to normal promptly. Follow-up care may include advice on alternate contraception methods or support if you are planning for a child. Guidance on using menstrual products post-fitting helps in maintaining the position and effectiveness of the IUD.


Intrauterine devices (IUDs) stand as a dependable, long-term contraception option, catering to a variety of women’s needs. Whether you select a copper or hormonal IUD, these devices provide effective pregnancy prevention whilst allowing for a high degree of convenience. Choosing a suitable IUD depends on multiple factors, including your medical history and family planning objectives. Thoroughly discussed options with a healthcare professional can greatly aid in ensuring your choice aligns with your personal health needs and lifestyle.

The importance of personalised care and expert guidance in achieving a positive patient experience cannot be overstated. Clinics such as The Coil Clinic are adept at navigating you through every step of the process, from initial consultation to aftercare. Pain management is a crucial aspect, and numerous strategies, including NSAIDs and local anaesthetics, are employed to minimise discomfort during and after the procedure, ensuring you feel as comfortable as possible.

Your sexual and reproductive health is paramount, and decisions regarding contraception should be informed and supported by professional advice. By utilising the services of a reputable clinic, you can confidently manage your contraception and family planning goals. Intrauterine devices offer not just reliable contraception, but also peace of mind, enabling you to pursue your life choices with assurance.


Does having a coil fitted hurt?

Discomfort levels during coil insertion can vary but are generally manageable, often compared to menstrual cramps. Pain management strategies, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, or local anaesthetic gel, are typically available to ease the process.

What types of coils are available?

There are two main types of coils: copper coils and hormonal coils. Copper coils act as a spermicidal agent, while hormonal coils, such as the Mirena, Levosert, and Kyleena, release hormones to prevent pregnancy.

What types of coils are available?

There are two main types of coils: copper coils and hormonal coils. Copper coils act as a spermicidal agent, while hormonal coils, such as the Mirena, Levosert, and Kyleena, release hormones to prevent pregnancy.

What is the coil fitting procedure like?

The procedure involves a medical history check, a speculum examination to visualise the cervix, and the insertion of the IUD using a specialised tool. Pain management options, such as local anaesthetic, are usually available to minimise discomfort.

How effective are IUDs?

IUDs are highly effective forms of contraception. Copper coils can prevent pregnancy for between 5 to 10 years, while hormonal coils can last between 3 to 8 years, depending on the type.

What pain management options are available for coil fitting?

Common pain management options include over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and paracetamol, local anaesthetic gels and sprays.

Are there any side effects of coil fitting?

Some common side effects post-procedure can include cramping, irregular bleeding, and lightheadedness. Hormonal IUDs may lead to additional symptoms like breast tenderness and mood changes. These typically subside after a short period.

Who should consider getting a coil fitted?

Most women, including those who have not had children, can consider getting a coil fitted. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to discuss medical history and determine the most suitable option.

How is a coil removed?

Coil removal is a straightforward process that can be conducted by a healthcare specialist at any time during one’s cycle. It is recommended to use protection 7 days prior to removal to avoid the risk of pregnancy. Fertility usually returns rapidly after removal.

What should I do if I experience unusual symptoms after coil fitting?

If you experience severe discomfort, prolonged bleeding, or any other unusual symptoms after coil fitting, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and care.

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Dr Catherine Smith

Dr Catherine Smith is the founder of The Coil Clinic. A GP and Women's Health Expert with nearly 20 years of experience. She is a BMS Certified Menopause Specialist