I can feel it....
January 17, 2012 2:21 PM   Subscribe

I can feel my wife's IUD during intercourse. Is this normal?

Back in September, my wife had a Mirena IUD inserted. In certain positions where, um, deeper penetration is achieved, I can feel it - like a bit of stiff fishing line poking my knob. As you can imagine, this is not exactly pleasurable. It is my understanding that the strings are not supposed to be felt at all and most people do not have this problem.

I could feel it the very first time we had sex after it was inserted. She told the gyno at the follow-up visit, and the doc said the strings were trimmed short and it was properly inserted. Nothing was changed and I can still feel it. Right now we are simply avoid positions that bring me into contact with the IUD, but it's becoming a distraction during sex that I'm not exactly pleased with (and we like some of those positions.)

I'm not magnanimously well-endowed, probably just about average - but I guess this could just be a result of how our two geometries intersect.

Should my wife go back to the gyno and ask her to modify the IUD strings? Will the IUD soften and 'settle' to the point where I may not notice it? Getting it removed is not really a great option - it was not covered by insurance so it represents a significant monetary investment.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The perfect question to bust out my new sock puppet account!

Okay, so I'm a gay female, and my girlfriend has an IUD, so obviously my experience is going to differ from yours pretty significantly. That said, when my girlfriend's IUD was first inserted, I could easily feel the strings with my fingers. They were VERY noticeable. Over time, they become coated with mucus, and they softened up. Now that it's been 6+ months, I can feel them if I try, but I do not feel them (again, this is with my fingers) unless I deliberately try, because they have softened and molded to the shape of her body.

So, yes, my experience is that over approximately six months, it is likely to soften to the point that you may not feel it.
posted by Why hello, I am a sock puppet at 2:30 PM on January 17, 2012

I have an IUD and I can feel the strings with my hand. If it bothers you, she should have it taken out, they can't trim the strings too much or else the IUD couldn't be pulled out. They say the strings are supposed to soften but if they haven't by now (and mine haven't after four years!), they are not likely to ever.
posted by Dragonness at 2:31 PM on January 17, 2012

It is completely normal to feel the strings--they're supposed to protrude from the cervix into the vaginal canal so that the user can check them with her fingers monthly and make sure they're still there (occasionally people expel their IUDs without realizing it).

As the strings soften, they should be less of a problem. Your wife can also try to reposition them by tucking the ends behind the cervix, up into the posterior fornix.

I would never get an IUD. Women get pregnant with them all the time

Please provide a link to back up this assertion. Reputable peer-reviewed studies show that the Mirena IUD is more effective than permanent sterilization by tubal ligation.
posted by jesourie at 2:35 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]

CXXVII could not be more wrong. There's a chart in this wikipedia article that lists the effectiveness of various birth control methods, and IUDs have very low failure rates.

I have an IUD and my boyfriend could originally feel the strings in some positions though it didn't bother him as much as you're saying it bothers you. Over time my strings have softened or become coated in mucus or whatever to the point that he never mentions it anymore. It's my understanding that trimming the strings can actually make it worse, as if they're shorter they get poky and then they can start scratching things. I have heard of some doctors cutting the strings back so that they don't hang out of the cervix at all, but this can make removal more difficult. Still, if in another month or two it's still bothering you, it might be worth asking the doctor about if the IUD is otherwise working for you two!
posted by rosethorn at 2:40 PM on January 17, 2012

Ignoring that this has become a debate about the effectiveness of IUD's, which is a question for your doctor.

Yes. It's normal to feel it. It means the little dangly string is too long, and your girlfriend needs to make an appointment with whoever fitted her with this IUD and get it trimmed. It's as simple as that.
posted by custard heart at 2:42 PM on January 17, 2012

[Comments removed. This is not the place for a general argument about IUDs, please cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 2:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would never get an IUD. Women get pregnant with them all the time, and end up having surprise miscarriages.

Knowing your body is 99% effective in safe-guarding against unwanted pregnancies.

in that case when her cervix is lower he'll just have to deal with it

This is crappy advice from start to finish. I am a gynaecologist, and I have fitted hundreds of MIRENAs. If MIRENA stays in it is the most effective available contraceptive method except abstinence.

It means the little dangly string is too long

This isn't right either. The MIRENA strings are a little bit curly, and they are difficult to cut. Strangely, it's cutting them too short, that causes "knob poking". If the strings are cut to the regulation 2cm they should curl over a little, so the poky end is tucked away.

If this is really a significant problem, then your wife could push her gynaecologist to change the MIRENA, or recut the strings even shorter, so they really only minimally protrude from the cervix. It would be technically fiddly. The MIRENA can shift position a bit over time, and cutting them shorter might make it harder to remove in future. Professionally, or personally, I've never been aware of the strings softening. They certainly maintain tensile strength over >5yrs, but Why Hello seems confident that they do soften.
posted by roofus at 2:46 PM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]

I've read trimming the strings short can actually make them more pokey because they stick out more. Apparently the longer strings are easier to curl around the cervix or something. Nevertheless they should still soften over time.
posted by schroedinger at 2:48 PM on January 17, 2012

As I posted before, yes, you may always feel it, yes, it can be painful. Both partners of mine who had an IUD had the strings clipped short (supposedly), but I never felt any difference--the fishing-line-poking-my-penis never went away or got any better, over years.
posted by pupsocket at 2:49 PM on January 17, 2012

Taking the OP's side here. Fact is, your wife's IUD's fishing line is poking you in your Johnson when you're having sex. This is not an acceptable situation! If it doesn't get any better, I would certainly go back to the gyno for help. If the doc says "Tough, that's the way it is" I would look for a different doc. Sheesh, this is the 21st century, folks, and although lots of parts of our government and commerce and society are broken, can't we just have pleasurable sex with an IUD in place? I don't think that's too much to ask.
posted by exphysicist345 at 3:26 PM on January 17, 2012

I can feel my wife's IUD during intercourse. Is this normal?
Yes. They're pretty stupid that way.

What we first didn't feel was the pregnancy. Just sayin'.
posted by Namlit at 3:36 PM on January 17, 2012

The info from roofus correlates with what my gyno said as well about mine. She said that she's leaves them a bit long (have no idea how long) so that they'll hopefully just lay to the side. I haven't had trouble with mine but you may be more sensitive, your geometry may be different or how the strings have been cut may be at issue. Go back to the doctor and/or get a second opinion. And really think about the monetary investment... five years of painful sex?
posted by amanda at 3:38 PM on January 17, 2012

If the strings are quite long, you (or your wife) could try to lightly bend them back up around the cervix using a finger or two so that the most poke-y part gets out of the way.

If the strings are just too short to bend over, I very much agree with exphysicist345: it's perfectly possible to trim the strings so short that they don't poke out at all. If you check the livejournal IUD divas you'll see that this is the most common remedy for poke-y strings (that have been cut too short/end up too short when the IUD has settled). The general impression seems to be that this only makes removal moderately more difficult for a professional (they have tools!). The obvious drawback is that your wife won't be able to check the position of the IUD herself (although it seems quite rare for an expulsion to go unnoticed).

Another thing to consider is that the cervix can move about quite a lot over the menstrual cycle for some women, changing the length of string that sticks out. This means that just level with the cervix one week might mean short and poke-y the next week, so you may want to track string length for a bit to make sure that it's cut level when it's "at its longest" (usually during/right after the period). Maybe you'll even find that the strings are a big problem only under part of the cycle. Also, it can take longer than 3-4 months for the string length to "stabilize" -- personally, I'd give it at least 6 months, but ymmv.
posted by yonglin at 4:00 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a Paragard, and my gyno left the strings long. We have never had a problem with this dick-stabbing you guys are dealing with, so I don't believe this is an acceptable or inevitable problem at all. I'd have her go back to the gyno, and let them know that you can't go on like this.
posted by Coatlicue at 4:05 PM on January 17, 2012

FWIW my husband was poked by my string a couple of times but eventually the string settled somewhere higher up in my bits and he hasn't been poked for the past couple of years.

If it doesn't resolve itself like that, she might go back to her gyno and ask to have it tucked up higher.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:29 PM on January 17, 2012

I know that when I got my Mirena, my midwife warned me of someone who had had her strings cut too short and they got...sucked up into the uterus?...and apparently it was extremely painful when whoever it was needed to get the IUD removed. FWIW.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:40 PM on January 17, 2012

This isn't right either. The MIRENA strings are a little bit curly, and they are difficult to cut. Strangely, it's cutting them too short, that causes "knob poking". If the strings are cut to the regulation 2cm they should curl over a little, so the poky end is tucked away.

From what I've read, this is the key. I remember when mine was inserted, the nurse was instructed by the supervising doctor to cut them at the location of the hymeneal remnants. In other words, the strings are pretty long. For the most part, they stay curled around the cervix and do their own thing. No partner has ever commented on the strings; the one who, uh, used the IUD with me when it was first inserted was astounded by how he couldn't feel anything at all.

Softening seems to be a thing, but too short apparently does lead to poking.

So...maybe wait until the 6-month mark to see how they feel. At that point, I understand that they can go back and cut the strings flush to the cervix, though that can complicate removal, or they can reinsert and cut the strings to a different length. If cost isn't an issue, you may try that, and in that instance: aim for longer.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 5:06 PM on January 17, 2012

My wife's OBGYN told her to let her know if there was any stabbing. Stabbing happened, and the strings were trimmed. Stabbing still happens, but frequency is much reduced. And we all rejoiced.
posted by tmt at 6:03 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I definitely get poked. She had the strings trimmed in order to address it. Still get poked, but at least not by the grubby hand of a child I'm ill-prepared to raise...
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:35 PM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

From the perspective a male, the IUD is the best thing ever. Even with the stabbing.
posted by tmt at 11:42 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But it depends on build, yours and hers.

My ex wife's IUD poked me often. She never had kids, and was on the smaller side.

My wife has an inverted uterus, they have to put her under to remove / replace. Hers (a mirena) doesn't poke me. She's had two kids.

I always thought of myself as average but more recent experiences have convinced me that I might be slightly larger than most.

Even with the poking, it's a damn sight better than condoms.
posted by wrm at 12:42 AM on January 18, 2012

She should try tucking the strings behind her cervix, eventually they should sort of train to stay there. If the problem during sex is only occasional, she (o you) should be able to 'fix' it by reaching up and tucking them away.

If it doesn't work I think the only thing to do is to get a new IUD and keep the strings longer. The longer strings stay tucked away much better - I don't know what the mania for short strings is.

I love IUDs in practice and in theory but American doctors are still learning their way around them, and there are fewer with real expertise and experience than one would hope.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:04 AM on January 18, 2012

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