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If you recently got an intrauterine device (IUD), you may be wondering how it affects your ability to be a freak in the sheets. The little T-shaped birth control buddy is inserted into your uterus and hangs around for the long haul. And once it’s in, you don’t have to worry about bringing a baby on board for 3 to 10 years.

But because an IUD is kind of in the sex zone, should you be worried about losing or even poking it? We have the answers to your IUD sex questions.

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Illustration by Alexis Lira

Even though IUDs are really popular globally — an estimated 168 million women have one — they’ve only recently become popular in the United States. There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and copper.

Hormonal IUD

The hormonal IUD releases the hormone progestin, which helps prevent fertilization and implantation. It also inconsistently stops ovulation. Hormonal IUDs need to be replaced every 3 to 5 years. The most common U.S. brands are Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena.

You may have some irregularities in your cycle at first, due to the hormones. But your cycle should regulate once your body adjusts to the IUD. Your periods might even get lighter after the first 6 months!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the hormonal IUD is 99.8 percent effective at keeping your eggo from getting preggo.

Copper IUD

The copper IUD is also extremely effective. The failure rate is about 0.1 percent. (A 99.99 percent success rate is a damn sexy stat.) The only copper IUD brand in the States is Paragard. It works by destroying sperm and disrupting sperm motility.

Because this type of IUD doesn’t contain hormones, your period should stay on schedule. But there is a downside: Expect heavier bleeding for 6 months or more after insertion. You may also have worse cramps than usual. These side effects should go away within a year.

A major perk of the copper IUD is that it can last up to 10 years. Birth control that has the same shelf life as a passport? Glorious.

According to Planned Parenthood, you can go to pound town right after you get your IUD. But you may not want to.

Insertion pain varies from person to person. One vagina’s “It was just a little pressure” is the next vagina’s “A MURDER HORNET HAS ENTERED MY CERVIX. OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN.” The great news is that the procedure is super-duper fast. It usually takes 5 to 15 minutes and you’re good to go.

Cramping and discomfort are totally common in the days after insertion. So if you’re not feeling up to it, give your vajayjay a break and avoid sex till you’re ready.

If you do wanna bang it out right after insertion, be careful about pregnancy. Hormonal IUDs take time to kick in. You should use alternative forms of birth control for the first 7 days after insertion.

The copper IUD is immediately effective — in fact, it can be used as emergency contraception in lieu of Plan B.

Cervical mucus does a good job at masking the feel of the IUD strings, but your partner may still feel them. If your partner has a penis, they probably won’t feel the strings too intensely. They’re easier to notice during a finger-bang sesh.

Your IUD strings may soften over time. But if you’re worried about them poking your partner, talk to your doctor about making the strings less noticeable. They may be able to curl the strings back or trim them.

What are IUD strings like?

When you have an IUD, one or two plastic strings (similar to fishing line) hang in your vaginal canal. The strings are usually about 2 inches long, and you can barely feel them with your fingertips if you explore.

The chance of your IUD actually hurting your partner is really low. If your partner complains of a little tickle, feel free to remind them of the following:

  • It’s your body.
  • You have consciously decided to stay baby-free, which is personal AF.
  • Their slight tickle is definitely nothing compared to having a device pushed through your cervix and into your womb.
  • *mic drop*

Now, if your partner pulls out and finds that the strings have punctured their penis (meaning it’s been poked by a fishing line-esque string, not stabbed through), that’s a different story. But that story is extremely rare and definitely not life threatening.

Sex shouldn’t hurt — during or after. If your IUD is positioned correctly, you shouldn’t be in pain. If you start experiencing cramping, aching, or a stabbing sensation during or after sex, call your doctor. There’s a chance the IUD has shifted.

“Hey, doc, I love getting railed. Hard. Is that gonna make my IUD go AWOL?” Your gyno has heard it all, so this really isn’t an awkward question to bring up mid-pap smear. When in doubt about anything sexual health-related, ask away! OB/GYNs are here to help answer all your burning (vaginal or not) questions!

Thankfully, the chance of rough sex moving an IUD is super slim. Your IUD is actually tucked away inside your uterus, not in your vagina, so it’s out of the penetration zone.

What about perforation?

Perforation is when your IUD pokes through your uterine wall. Rude. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says perforation occurs in only 1 in 1,000 cases. It’s unlikely that getting freaky will cause this, and OB/GYNs would see a lot more perforations if sex were solely to blame.

Perforation most likely has something to do with how the IUD was initially placed or the unique characteristics of a person’s uterus.

The aftermath of perforation is serious. You’ll need abdominal surgery to remove the IUD and make sure everything inside your abdomen looks OK. But again, this is very rare and shouldn’t prevent you from considering an IUD if you think it’s right for you.

It’s unlikely you’re bleeding after sex just because you have an IUD. Bleeding between periods is common in the months after IUD insertion. But if this bleeding pattern sticks around for a long time, there’s a chance the IUD is in the wrong position or has been partially dislodged.

That’s why it’s important to check your IUD strings on the reg. If you normally can feel the strings and suddenly can’t, call your doctor. They can do an exam to make sure the IUD is still sitting pretty inside your uterus.

What about period sex?

If you and your partner are into it (and you’re both clear of STIs), it’s perfectly safe to have sex while on your period, regardless of an IUD. Boning while surfing the crimson wave is totally your call.

Doggy-Style, Reverse Cowgirl, Standing Wheelbarrow, Missionary… If you can dream it, you can do it. Your IUD won’t limit your ability to enjoy any sexual position you please.

You know your body best. Call your gyno A-S-A-P if you feel like something is off or if you experience any of these issues:

  • symptoms of a blood clot
  • pain during sex
  • extreme cramping
  • bleeding after sex
  • heavy spotting between periods
  • any changes in your menstrual bleeding
  • inability to find your IUD strings
  • feeling the IUD sticking out of your cervix
  • pregnancy symptoms

Important reminder on STIs

IUDs DO NOT protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as these:

  • HIV
  • herpes
  • chlamydia
  • gonorrhea
  • syphilis
  • trichomoniasis
  • human papillomavirus (HPV)

Always use condoms or another barrier method if you’re not 💯 percent sure you’re in the clear.

IUDs are super effective. Once an IUD is inserted, you don’t have to worry about baking a bun in your oven for years. And if you change your mind, removal is a breeze.

If you want an IUD, don’t worry about the device killing your mojo. It may actually give your love life a beautiful boost. When you know you’re protected, you can enjoy the ride even more.