Many contraceptive methods are available in the market, which are determined by the doctor in consultation with the woman, including the IUD, which is a metal or plastic device placed in the uterus, to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg and impeding its settlement in the uterus.
The IUD has a large number of advantages, although women face some of the IUD’s harms or its side effects, such as heavy bleeding, menstrual irregularities, or infections due to the IUD, but can these IUD infections be treated? (1)
In this article, we review ways to treat infections resulting from IUD installation, and how to avoid and prevent them.
How do IUD infections occur? Types of bacteria live inside the woman’s vagina in a natural and balanced manner, keeping the vaginal pH constant without changing. The vagina is the environment for these healthy bacteria, as these bacteria should not spread to one of the other genitals.
The insertion of metal or plastic through the vagina pushes bacteria deep into the woman’s genital tract, and the bacteria move from the vagina to the uterus, which is not the right place for it. (2)
The infection spreads widely within the female genital organs and may affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries in what is known as pelvic inflammation (PID), whose most common symptoms include: (3)(5)
- lower abdominal pain
- Bleeding between periods, which is also a symptom of IUD infections.
- Change the smell of vaginal secretions after inserting the IUD to an unpleasant odor.
- Pain with sexual intercourse, and it may also be accompanied by bleeding.
- Burning feeling when urinating.
The same applies to infection, which the woman may have had before the IUD was installed. The IUD causes it to spread internally to other organs of the reproductive system, and it is known as infections caused by the IUD. The chances of a woman getting pelvic infection decrease after about 3 weeks of IUD placement. (2)
IUD infection treatment
When the woman notices the symptoms of pelvic inflammation due to the IUD, she should quickly go to the doctor to determine the appropriate treatment. The doctor often prescribes antibiotics to treat pelvic infection or sexually transmitted infection, without the need to remove the IUD. (5)
The doctor may advise the woman to use another method of birth control in the event that the infection worsens and does not respond to treatment, or if other side effects resulting from the use of the IUD are noted, such as interruption of menstruation, or strong abdominal pain, and others. (5)
Prevention of infections caused by the IUD
Women notice the majority of IUD damage, such as vaginal infections, in the first months following its installation, which gradually disappear after that. We list below some tips that can reduce or treat infections after IUD installation: (4)(2)
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol, to control IUD pain.
- Use warm compresses in the lower abdomen to reduce cramping.
- Wear comfortable and loose clothes for several days after IUD installation, to avoid pressure on the uterus and vagina, which may increase infections caused by the IUD.
- Keeping the vagina clean from the outside only, and using sanitary pads to dry blood spots that may result from IUD installation.
Early treatment is useful in getting rid of infection quickly and preventing complications that may be caused by pelvic inflammation, such as or chronic pain. Therefore, symptoms of pelvic inflammation or signs of vaginitis resulting from IUD insertion should not be ignored. The IUD may be an unsuitable method for the woman and the doctor recommends changing it.