IUD and Oral?
January 24, 2017 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering an IUD again due to the very real possibility that it may be making my existing depression/anxiety worse. However, when I talked to my OBGYN a few months ago she had mentioned the IUD could cause smelly discharge. This is not very appealing for my sex life. My question is whether it would still be worth it and if there's anything I could do to minimize it.

Like it says above. I want to get off the pill (I'm too scared any other pill will make me even moodier and irritable or fat or cause pimples) but I also don't want to get smelly discharge and miss out on oral sex! Did you make the decision to get an IUD anyway and how smelly is the discharge? Do you and your partner just abstain from oral sex now? I've looked into other birth control options but they seem to suck. I have an appointment scheduled with my OBGYN to talk about this but wanted to get some answers from other women just in case I'm missing something and help me make a decision.

Frustrated with birth control options,
posted by driedmango to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Is this a frequent side effect? I've had an IUD for five years and never even heard of this. Anecdotally, I wouldn't even worry about it. (Unless you hear a chorus otherwise.)

Plus you can always have it taken out.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:09 AM on January 24, 2017 [9 favorites]

I have never heard of this side effect nor have I experienced it.

On preview, what chesty_a says.
posted by MandaSayGrr at 8:11 AM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

What? I've had a Mirena for over a year and haven't experienced this, nor did my doctor mention it or have I seen it mentioned anywhere else. I'm not saying it doesn't happen to anyone, but I don't believe it happens with a frequency that should affect your decision. I couldn't be happier with my IUD.
posted by Kriesa at 8:14 AM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

So no mention of smelly discharge or bad taste during oral sex? I wonder why my OBGYN mentioned it.
posted by driedmango at 8:14 AM on January 24, 2017

Never heard of nor experienced this and I've had 2 Mirenas and am about to get a third.

Also, to swing the pendulum even further I want to add a data point that I LOVE having it and it is one of the best things I've ever done for myself.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 8:15 AM on January 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have one and it's 100% not an issue.

Many OBGYNs have not exactly hopped on the pro-IUD train because much earlier models could cause problems and because up till recently they have not been popular. But yeah I have never heard of this ever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:17 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Uhhhhh...what? Yeah, no smelly discharge or bad taste. I'm on round two with the Mirena IUD and it's been nothing but fantastic, and amazing, and life-changing.
posted by Marinara at 8:18 AM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have one and I've never heard of this or had it happen to me.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:18 AM on January 24, 2017

I've never heard of this. I've also had an IUD for six months now, and am pretty sure it in no way impacts my vaginal smells nor my oral sex experience.

If my OBGYN said something like this without providing actual medically verifiable context, I'd question whether they were the right person to be smelling my vagina, professionally speaking. (Same goes for anyone smelling my vagina in the off-hours.)

Edited to add: also, I asked an IUD-related question a couple years ago and got tons of useful answers, not one of which mentioned stinky pussy.
posted by tapir-whorf at 8:18 AM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Since hormones are the problem, I'm assuming you're looking at a Paragard? I had it for almost 7 years and the discharge is the main reason I eventually ditched it. I wouldn't call it SMELLY, but it was slightly metallic - like blood.

For about 5 years it was great, though.
posted by peep at 8:22 AM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I mean, I'm sure it is a possible side effect, but that seems like the sort of thing that, if it happens, you go to your doctor to make sure there's not another reaction going. Uh, maybe another doctor than the one you already have.

I had a paragard and did not have this issue.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:26 AM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I had a Paragard for 8 years and didn't have a discharge issue.
posted by disaster77 at 8:34 AM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I had the Mirena removed for other issues but uh no smelly discharge for me and it was never even brought up as a potential problem.

The Nuvaring made my discharge different, and more spotting than normal, but I still wouldn't call it smelly.
posted by lydhre at 8:37 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

If my OBGYN said something like this without providing actual medically verifiable context, I'd question whether they were the right person to be smelling my vagina, professionally speaking.

Yes, this is the kind of weird statement that would cause me to question whether I had the right doctor. I mean, is it a possible side effect? Probably? Anything is possible. But if she's warning you away from a treatment based on a side effect without explaining to you what seems to be the small likelihood of it, that does not instill confidence.

(P.S. They are not 100% ideal, but you know about dental dams, right?)
posted by praemunire at 8:39 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've also never heard of this. I would make sure to ask your OBGYN how many IUDs they install per year if you decide to go forward. You want someone who does *hundreds* and I wonder if they actually do that many if this is their knowledge and/or advice. Sheesh.
posted by purple_bird at 8:40 AM on January 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have a Mirena, and also have never heard of this side effect.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:40 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

[One comment deleted; folks, don't get into a fight with other commenters, stick to your own experience/knowledge and how it can help OP please.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:50 AM on January 24, 2017

Hormonal IUDs can change the quantity and consistency of discharge (this is their primary mechanism of action). I have never ever heard of them causing discharge to be "smelly" or taste different.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:51 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a paragard and yeah I think I probably taste a little more coppery and metallic than usual but it's nowhere near "smelly" and I have received no complaints.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:53 AM on January 24, 2017

I have had my IUDs make me more prone to BV infections which causes smelly discharge. This is apparently more likely with the copper one than the mirena. I wash with no soap and I get antibiotics when I have an episode and I have had no complaints but I still feel more icky and less likely to request oral. YMMV.
posted by corvine at 8:55 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just adding to the chorus - I've had the Mirena for almost a year and this is 100% not an issue for me I did plenty of research before getting it, and my provider was very thorough in discussing side effects, and smelly discharge was not something that came up even once.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:56 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Paragard for five years, Mirena for two. I have never experienced this issue, and this is my first time even hearing of it.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:09 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yep, I never experienced this and don't forget if you don't like it, you can have it removed in a jiffy.
posted by janey47 at 9:11 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm on my third Mirena (so, about eleven years of use.) Never had a problem with discharge, never heard of this problem either. I totally wouldn't worry about it.
posted by workerant at 9:31 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have the Mirena IUD and am chiming in with the chorus of the other ladies above. I love it; I have not had a single menstrual cycle since it was inserted, have not gained weight, my skin has remained clear, and best of all-- I do not have absolutely horrendous PMS which basically stole 4 days out of my month. I've never had discharge either. So you're looking at a bunch of first-hand, anecdotal evidence here, which is helpful, but perhaps consider getting a second opinion from a professional.

Also- I've heard the copper IUD can worsen cramps and PMS and bloating and moodiness. Haven't had one myself so perhaps get a second opinion on that, too.

Best of luck to you and your reproductive health!
posted by erattacorrige at 9:40 AM on January 24, 2017

Also- I've heard the copper IUD can worsen cramps and PMS and bloating and moodiness. Haven't had one myself so perhaps get a second opinion on that, too.

It frequently increases the amount of blood and the cramps, certainly did for me. I haven't found it to have any effect on PMS or other symptoms. For me it's totally totally worth it because I don't react well at all to hormonal BC, not even in smaller amounts (like when I was on the ring) - but for people who don't have that concern and want to reduce their period symptoms, the hormonal ones may be better.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:58 AM on January 24, 2017

I got a Mirena recently and had smelly discharge for about a month after having it inserted. The smelly discharge was bloody, and I think the smell was blood related, but it was still not a normal smell for me. I was worried it would be a permanent change, but thankfully once the bleeding finally stopped the smell went with it.

So if you get one be sure to give your body some time to adjust before deciding if you like it! The adjustment period was a lot more annoying than I was expecting, but now that I am over the hump I am really glad I got one.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 11:14 AM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've had a Paragard for about seven years now and have never had any problem with smelly discharge or anything like that. (Also haven't had problems with cramps since two or three months after insertion, and if anything my periods are lighter, so this is a case where YMMV.)
posted by Lexica at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've got a Mirena and it's great, but if you're looking at Paraguard that's a different thing (and regardless you are a different body so ymmv).

As for your OBGYN- there's two reasons I'd be worried. First, old school docs sometimes still think IUDs are inappropriate for women who haven't had kids. This is out of date, and an OBGYN who thinks this would worry me re:their knowledge base.

The other bigger issue, is that some religious people claim that IUDs cause abortions (because they prevent eggs from implanting- even if they have been fertilized). This Is even beyond the "life begins at conception" viewpoint, since that includes implantation; it's really more "life begins at fertilization".

If I had an OBGYN discourage me from an IUD, without a specific medical reason it was contraindicated for me in particular, I would seriously doubt whether they could keep their religion/random paternalism about women's health choices/etc out of my uterus. (I've been pretty thrilled that every doc I've seen since I got one is glad that it works for me, and the doc who inserted it- well I was ready to go through a list of reasons I thought it was the right choice for me, but no need! She was right on board since it was what I wanted, and it made medical sense for me.)

Lastly, a good OBGYN should be able to tell you which pills/shots/iuds/etc have a lower incidence of mental health side effects. There are many formulations of "the pill", some are more likely to cause certain side effects, and a good doc knows which ones are best for the issue you are having. (Pills do have the benefit that you can stop taking them immediately if the side effects are unbearable- the shot you just have to wait, and an IUD or implant you have to make an appointment for removal).
posted by nat at 12:48 PM on January 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am literally on my 3rd IUD and there have been no complaints or concerns ever about anything that you're asking about here.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:41 PM on January 24, 2017

I've had paraguard for a few years. For the first couple of months, my period had a bit of metallic smell, but no difference in discharge during the rest of the month.
posted by Neekee at 2:10 PM on January 24, 2017

No issues for me on Paraguard.
posted by hollyholly at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2017

For about 6 months after getting the Paraguard I had noticeably more discharge. I'm partnered and neither of us noticed any change in smell. 3 years in and the discharge is gone but I continue to have cramps (I didn't before) and still occasionally bleed through my hygiene products (also never happened before) and my period lasts about a day and a half longer than before.
posted by eisforcool at 3:28 PM on January 24, 2017

Joining in to say I've had the Mirena since Aug and have a longterm partner who is more than willing to do oral, no complaints in that area from him at all.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 4:11 PM on January 24, 2017

I had a Mirena for almost 12 months and had almost constant spotting and bloody discharge and multiple cervical infections.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:29 PM on January 24, 2017

I've had a Paraguard for eight years and this not been an issue I've encountered. I've never heard of this as a side effect either. I love my IUD. Seconding everyone above who recommends caution in having this doctor insert your IUD if you do go for it - you really want it to be done my someone with lots of experience who does insertions often.
posted by ants at 5:27 PM on January 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just chiming in because I don't see a mention of it yet - I had a hormonal IUD, the Skyla, which is smaller and designed to last for three years rather than five. My gynecologist and I chose it as a slightly gentler option than the Mirena and it was wonderful. I had a lot of spotting for the first two months and yes, this smelled in the way that period blood will smell, but then it tapered off to nothing and took my period with it. The only reason I don't still have one is that I later went on to have a hysterectomy for unrelated reasons. Essentially what I'm saying is that there are more IUD options out there than just the Paraguard and the Mirena, and one might suit you better.
posted by DSime at 6:25 PM on January 24, 2017

I can definitely smell a difference with having an IUD. I've had the Mirena twice, once before pregnancy and then after, and each time my discharge quickly took on a slightly artificial scent. It's essentially how a DivaCup smells when in use, kind of musky and yes a tinge of old blood. However, it's not gross and although I was glad for it to go away when I had the first IUD removed, I (obviously?) wouldn't ditch one solely because of the odor. The NuvaRing, for comparison, caused the same problem but much worse, enough that it was a pretty big part of the reason I moved to an IUD in the first place.
posted by teremala at 7:34 PM on January 24, 2017

I had a Paragard IUD for about a year and had it removed for several reasons. At the top of the list were increased cramps, heavier/more painful periods, increased discharge (in both quantity and viscosity), and a very noticeable coppery/metallic odor.

The IUD was never comfortable for me and I was very much aware of its presence from day one. Having it removed was a relief.
posted by Majorita at 7:56 PM on January 24, 2017

I think with this issue, as with all birth control, the results vary wildly between people. Increased discharge and increased risk of infection are (small) potential side effects of IUDs -- meaning that they are not guaranteed to happen to all (or even most) users, and when they do occur will manifest differently in different people.

If you're collecting experiences, I have had a Mirena for 2.5 years. My discharge increased dramatically in amount, but it didn't really change in odor or consistency. This change in my discharge has had zero effect on my sex life.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 12:31 PM on January 25, 2017

I'm glad to see more people chiming in with less positive experiences. I LOVE my IUD, it's by far the best method for me, but I wish I had been fully warned of effects before having it installed, as it might have influenced my choice of material.
I went with the no-hormones copper version, and the change in smell was a reality for me. It's not putrid or infectious or anything, but there is a metallic coppery tang that wasn't there before. It took me by surprise when I noticed it, but my regular partner doesn't seem to mind and it hasn't had an impact on our sex life. I have had the chance to be up close and personal with another similarly IUDed lady, so I can confirm mine wasn't an isolated case, and also that it doesn't affect taste as much as smell...
posted by Freyja at 6:57 AM on February 16, 2017

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