It's OK: Tampons Can be Used with IUDs — Here's How

Tampons and IUDs enter the body in the same way, but they don’t end up in the same place and shouldn’t affect each other.other words, tampons are safe

The procedure for inserting tampons is the same as that used to insert IUDs, but they don’t go to the same spot in your body and shouldn’t harm each other. So tampons are safe.

Perhaps you've heard horror stories about an intrauterine device falling out from under your cervix or moving around while it's in your womb (displacement).

Your IUD may have been displaced because of this, and you may be wondering if anything you put in your vagina might also do the same.

The safety of period products — particularly tampons — has always been an issue for women.

Despite the fact that they enter the body the same way, tampons and IUDs do not end up in the same place and should not affect each other.

IUD wearers should follow these tips for using tampons safely.

What’s the quick answer?

In the opinion of Dr. Aleanar DeLeo, an obstetrician and gynecologist, women with a tampon can 'absolutely' use them.

It is inserted in the vagina, not in the uterus, so the two will not interfere.

You should avoid using tampons right after your IUD is inserted.

Dr. Deleo recommends that you stay on pads 48 hours post-period. Avoid inserting anything in your vagina during this period in order to minimize the risk of infection.

After an intrauterine device has been implanted, tampons can be used only after at least four weeks. Most healthcare professionals agree on this.

Is it possible that one could be displaced?

Using a tampon to dislodge an IUD is "very rare," Lee notes.

It isn’t well researched either.

It’s believed that this study is the first to find evidence that tampon use is not associated with early expulsions of implants.

More recent research in 2019 suggests that concurrent tampon use is not associated with IUD expulsion.

There is still a need for further research to fully examine the potential effects of period products on IUD placement.

Other factors can increase the chances of expulsion, says Lee, such as:

  1. periods that are heavy and painful

  2. delivery of a baby vaginally

  3. an insertion after an abortion or the birth of a baby.

  4. an inserter's skill

Why is this happening?

Neither anecdotal nor scientific evidence indicates that tampons can cause IUDs to fall out or move around.

It is theoretically possible, however, for this to occur if the IUD is accidentally caught when you remove your tampon.

You shouldn’t have issues with the length of your IUD strings, however.

In addition, tampon strings hang outside your body, which means you shouldn’t have to reach inside of you to take it out.

Do not pull the tampon beyond the opening of the cervix if it does not have a string.

How can you prepare for IUD insertion before or after insertion?

It’s a good idea to discuss any period-related concerns with your doctor before making an appointment for IUD insertion.

In some cases, it's appropriate to talk to your doctor about which type of IUD is right for you.

Usually, hormonal versions of period products bring periods back or halt them completely, which means you may not need to use certain period products as often as you used to.

Your doctor can recommend other menstrual products if your uterus is tilted.

Although tampons can be used with a tilted uterus, some people have difficulty inserting them.

Make sure your IUD inserter knows about the period products you’re likely to be using, too.

Rayner suggests trimming the [IUD] strings a bit shorter.

What is the best time to start using a tampon?

“There is a slightly increased risk of vaginal infections in the initial weeks following IUD insertion,” Rayner says.

The first month after giving birth, many experts advise women to avoid tampons to reduce the risk of infection.

It may mean you have to use pads for your first period after getting an IUD, depending on the timing of your periods.

It may be sensible to hold off on using tampons until after your IUD follow-up appointment, Lee adds.

It is typically advised to do this in the first six weeks following insertion since “the greatest risk of expulsion is during the first six weeks after insertion,” Lee explains.

Are there any ways to reduce the risk of complications?

During each period, you will want to check that you can still feel the strings of your IUD, so you'll know it's still in place.

In addition, you should feel for the strings at different times of the month, as your cervix can shift position throughout your cycle.

You may find this difficult if your strings have been cut.

The following are the steps Lee uses to check the strings are still in place:

  1. Hands should be washed and dried. Get comfortable on a chair or edge of a bed as you remove your underwear.

  2. Feel downward and backward in your vagina with your second and third fingers, then upward and around the bend to find your cervix. 

  3. Feel for the strings. The stainless steel IUD feels like stainless steel fishing twine — hard and metallic. Do not worry if you can feel one or two threads. Basically, you just need to know that they feel normal and seem the normal length.

Is there anything to watch out for?

IUDs fall out on their own, but it is easy to tell if you notice them. A toilet seat, for instance, might fall onto it.

An unnoticed expulsion is a worst-case scenario, Lee says. If you are exceptionally unlucky, a negative pregnancy test will be the first sign.

Because of this, it is essential to check the strings after each period.

If the coil protrudes from the cervix, then you may be able to feel it if the IUD itself has dislodged.

You need to have your IUD checked straight away if you can’t feel the strings or you suspect that your IUD has become detached.

When you have a sexual encounter without protective contraception, you may need an emergency contraceptive method, says Dr. Baker. “If it’s placed incorrectly, or it's not on your body correctly, you might be at risk of an unplanned pregnancy.”

Contraception should also be used until a healthcare professional has checked your IUD.

Do not panic if the above occurs.

“Most often, the threads will be there,” Lee says. “They may have spread themselves out around the cervix and may not be very visible”, she said.

If the threads can’t be located, Lee says, “the doctor will perform an ultrasound scan to find out if the coil is in your womb.”

In her opinion, however, it is okay to leave the IUD in place until it is time to remove it.

Sometimes there may be no coil threads on the IUD, which means it has perforated the uterine wall. To have it removed, you will need a laparoscopy.

Is there any alternative to consider?

If you don’t like the idea of using tampons, there are plenty of other period products available.

The use of menstrual discs or cups can be more comfortable for some women than they find with traditional tampons.

A recent study did find a possible link between the use of menstrual cups and the expulsion of IUDs.

The only products that are “risk-free” are those that do not require insertion, such as pads and period underwear.

How does it work?

Although an IUD can be physically dislodged or pulled out by a tampon, this is extremely uncommon. So there’s really little need to worry.

You can always check your IUDs each month if you’re concerned.

When your period comes around, use other period products if it makes you more comfortable.

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