Many women who get an IUD inserted express how free they feel. No longer do they need to worry about remembering to take the pill in the morning, and they’re free to be as spontaneous as they like with their committed partner without needing to stop to put on a condom. From time to time, though, women want to make sure any health woes are not related to a misplaced or moving IUD. You can often perform this check at home by finding it yourself, but what do IUD strings feel like, anyway?
Most IUDs cause no trouble, but occasionally, one moves out of place. When this occurs, a woman runs the risk of becoming pregnant. While not 100 percent foolproof, one way a woman can make sure her IUD hasn’t navigated to somewhere it shouldn’t be is by testing the strings. What do IUD strings feel like, and how can females check them?
How Do IUDs Work?
Two types of IUD exist: hormonal and nonhormonal. The nonhormonal form of IUD utilizes copper to prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg. Copper keeps sperm from swimming properly, and because they cannot get to the egg, pregnancy does not occur.
According to Planned Parenthood, if a woman has this type of IUD inserted within five days of having unprotected sex, she runs hardly any risk of pregnancy. Copper IUDs last 10-12 years. Women who cannot use hormonal birth control due to the side effects should investigate this method, as it prevents pregnancy more effectively than condoms, which occasionally break or fail due to human error.
Hormonal IUDs, such as Mirena, prevent pregnancy in much the same way birth control pills do. However, their advantage includes the ability to do things such as taking a spontaneous road trip without worrying as to whether she remembered to bring her contraception. Different types of hormonal IUDs last for periods of time varying from three to seven years.
A doctor can remove both forms of IUD if a female wishes to become pregnant. It is, however, important to note that neither type of IUD protects against sexually transmitted diseases, so those not in committed relationships should continue using condoms and dental dams during intercourse.
What Do IUD Strings Feel Like?
Checking IUD strings takes only a few seconds, but a woman may not know what to feel for when she checks her device. What do IUD strings feel like, and what can a woman expect when checking?
The type of IUD a woman selects plays a small role in what the strings feel like. Those of a copper IUD feel stiff when the device is first inserted, although they do soften and wrap around the cervix over time. The strings usually extend a tiny bit into the vaginal cavity, and they feel at first like the metal used to make an extremely thin paper clip.
Hormonal IUD strings feel slightly less stiff at first than copper ones. The feeling is more akin to a stiffened piece of thread or a very thin plastic tie. As with copper IUDs, the strings extend only a few millimeters from the cervix, so have no fear of them constantly dangling from the vagina.
Normally, a woman’s partner cannot feel the IUD during sexual intercourse. However, as certain positions may allow the man’s penis to hit the cervix, the female partner may experience pain while the man feels a little pick or scratch. If this occurs, the woman’s doctor can trim the strings shorter.
How to Check IUD Strings
Few women can reach their cervix while lying supine, and since strings don’t extend far, many find the easiest position to check them is by squatting low. She should think of going number two while on a camping trip and squat down.
Then, she should insert her finger into the vagina until she feels the cervix. It’s good to get an idea of the size and length of the cervix, anyway, if a woman prefers to use menstrual cups during her period instead of tampons.
Important — do not yank or tug on the strings in any way. Doing so could move the IUD out of place, creating the risk of unintentional pregnancy. Simply gently tap or touch the cervical opening to feel the strings.
What If I Can’t Feel My IUD Strings?
If a woman cannot feel anything when she tests for her strings, it doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the panic button. It does, however, mean picking up the phone and calling the gynecologist.
Remember, copper IUDs can prevent pregnancy if inserted within five days of unprotected or even sketchy sex when the position of the IUD is unclear. The doctor may require a pregnancy test, however, to be sure conception hasn’t occurred before inserting a new device if necessary. Women with access to emergency contraception can use it to further decrease the chances of becoming with child.
If the doctor cannot determine the position of the IUD through a pelvic exam, they may do an ultrasound to check if it’s still in place. Rarely, an IUD will perforate the uterine wall and travel to other parts of the body. While not dangerous, the IUD will need to be removed and a new one inserted.
Enjoying Sexual Freedom
Regardless of the type of IUD a woman chooses, most discover they adore the freedom the device gives them to enjoy spontaneous intercourse without the fear of becoming pregnant. Now that women know the answer to the question, “what do IUD strings feel like?” they can ask their gynecologist if this is the best, nearly hassle-free birth control method for them!