Lower back pain is one of the less advertised possible side effect of IUDs, or intrauterine devices, yet women's health forums are full of accounts from women who have lower back pain that began only after the insertion of an IUD.
IUDs are small, flexible, T-shaped contraceptive devices inserted through the cervix into the uterus. They disrupt the flow of sperm and prevent eggs from implanting in the uterine wall. There are two types of IUDs: copper and hormonal. Copper is toxic to sperm. Hormonal IUDs work to thicken mucus around the cervix, preventing sperm from entering.
There are a number of possible causes of lower back pain associated with IUD use. The timing and duration of the pain can indicate the cause. Lower back pain that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks after insertion may simply be due to the introduction of a foreign object into your body. Your uterus may experience cramping, and this can cause cramping in the lower back.
A possible cause of prolonged lower back pain after the insertion of an IUD is a change in menstruation. Copper IUDs have been associated with heavier menstrual bleeding. During menstruation, the body releases high levels of prostaglandins, chemicals that make the uterus contract. This contraction enables it to shed its lining, which is what leaves the body during menstruation. Contractions are what cause abdominal and lower back cramping. Muscle spasms in the lower back can result in pain.
While hormonal IUDs can actually help to relieve painful menstrual symptoms like cramping, they can cause back pain in other ways. Levonorgestrel, the hormone released by some IUDs, has been linked to back and pelvic pain in 1-10% of users. More on the potential side effects and risks of hormonal IUDs can be found at http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/100001706.html.
Another possible long-term cause of lower back pain associated with IUD use is perforation of the uterus. This can occur during insertion if the medical professional performing the procedure makes a mistake. Along with failing to prevent pregnancy, an IUD in a perforated uterus can fall out of place. Misplaced IUDs can cause internal scarring or infection. Damage and inflammation of pelvic tissues can cause both pelvic and lower back pain.
One of the most popular concerns associated with IUD use is the increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is caused by an infection that travels from the vagina to the cervix, and moves on to damage all of the female sex organs. IUDs do not cause PID, but they may help to spread it. PID is caused by sexually transmitted infections, including gonorrhea and chlamydia. During insertion, an IUD may help the infection travel into the uterus. Infection of the reproductive organs can cause lower back pain through proximity.
There are many reasons a woman may choose an IUD over other contraceptive methods. Hormonal IUDs only need to be replaced every 5 years, and copper IUDs last for 10 years. They are hassle-free, discreet, and more effective than other forms of contraception. They are not perfect, however. They can dislodge, affect your period and cause health problems.
If you are at risk of sexually transmitted disease, IUDs should not be used. If menstrual periods are often heavy, then copper IUDs should not be used. Make sure you have a careful and experienced medical professional insert an IUD. If your back pain lasts longer than two weeks after insertion, or if it is severe, then you should see a doctor. An ultrasound or physical exam can determine if the IUD is still in place. Keep track of your symptoms and educate yourself on the benefits and risks associated with various forms of birth control.
For more information on IUDs, see http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/intrauterine-device-iud-for-birth-control.
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