What You Need to Know About IUD Strings and Sex, According to an Ob-Gyn

·3-min read

If you just got an IUD for the first time, you might be wondering if the device can be felt at all during sex. To answer that question, we spoke to Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn who is a sexual- and reproductive-health expert for Intimina - a company that makes intimate health products.

First, let's dive into the anatomy of an IUD. The IUD (intrauterine device) is a small T-shaped device that's actually placed inside the uterus.

As Dr. Dweck explained, the IUD is attached to a long set of strings, which are smooth, mobile, and very thin. When the IUD is inserted into the uterus, those strings are cut shorter but in a way that they come out of the cervix and into the vagina slightly.

The length of those strings after they are cut can vary based on the individual and the medical provider performing the procedure, Dr. Dweck explained. Depending on how the strings are cut, Dr. Dweck said they can hang out of the cervix, curve around the outside of it, or curl up inside the cervix canal.

"They [the strings] are simply a retrieval mechanism for when the IUD is removed, and they provide an easy way for one to check and confirm the IUD is in position month to month," Dr. Dweck said. So the only parts of the IUD that should ever be able to be "felt" are the strings.

Related: I'm in Love With My IUD For This Simple Reason, and I Don't Care Who Knows It

In regard to penis-to-vagina intercourse, Dr. Dweck said most partners with male sex organs don't feel or notice the IUD strings unless they are "pointing" out of the cervix canal at a specific angle. "While there is no medical danger to a male partner feeling IUD strings during sex, it may be slightly uncomfortable," she explained. "The string is a soft plastic monofilament but at times can give a 'poking sensation' to a male partner. This is easily remedied by trimming the strings."

However, she said sexual partners feeling IUD strings is "an almost nonissue" with her patients. Your doctor can help you make the call on if your IUD strings need to be trimmed. And, for the record, your IUD strings should only ever be trimmed by a trained and certified medical professional.

It's also possible your IUD strings may be felt during finger-in-vaginal-canal intercourse, but Dr. Dweck said the partner would really need to try in order to do so.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an IUD that has moved can also potentially cause pain during sex, so it's crucial to be mindful of your symptoms and visit your doctor if you're experiencing discomfort during sex and you have an IUD.

Again, Dr. Dweck said it's recommended for patients to check for their IUD strings every month to make sure it's still in the correct location. In order to do this, Planned Parenthood suggests putting your fingers into your vagina and reaching up toward the cervix - where your IUD strings should be. However, you should not tug on the string.

If your strings feel longer than usual, Dr. Dweck said this could indicate that your IUD has shifted position. If you cannot feel the strings, there is a chance the IUD has fallen out or penetrated the uterine wall. However, Dr. Dweck said this occurrence is very rare.

In either circumstance, it's a good idea to visit your doctor for a checkup.

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