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Causes of Severe Cramping with an IUD

author image Sarah Harding
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.
Causes of Severe Cramping with an IUD
Causes of Severe Cramping with an IUD Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
Medically Reviewed by
George Krucik, MD, MBA


An IUD is an intrauterine device that is placed inside the uterus by a medical professional. It is a T-shaped piece of plastic that contains either copper or a synthetic progesterone hormone that prevents pregnancy, explains the American Pregnancy Association. A woman who experiences cramping with an IUD should speak with a health care provider. Some causes of cramping are normal, but severe pain should be evaluated for possible complications.

Following Insertion

The IUD can increase a woman's risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. This is an infection that occurs in the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some mild to moderate cramping following the procedure is normal, but persistent pain is not. If bleeding occurs with the severe cramping, medical attention is necessary. If you experience severe pain within a few hours of insertion contact your doctor immediately.

Ectopic Pregnancy

BabyCenter.com points out that IUDs are 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, but in the event that a pregnancy occurs, the likelihood of it being ectopic are greater. An ectopic pregnancy develops when the fertilized egg attaches somewhere other than the uterine lining. This often occurs in one of the fallopian tubes. Symptoms include cramping and spotting. If the egg ruptures away from the place it attached, it can cause internal bleeding and severe pain. If the egg ruptures from a fallopian tube, the woman can experience symptoms of shock. This includes shoulder pain, dizziness, clammy skin, weakness and a racing pulse.

Menstrual Period

The IUD can increase the abdominal cramping a woman experiences during her period. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the copper IUD causes an increase in cramps and bleeding.


The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points out that within the first year, about 5 percent of women who have an IUD will experience expulsion. This occurs when the IUD moves from its place either partially or fully. The side effects of this can be subtle or severe, including abdominal pain, pain during sex, missed period, unusual vaginal discharge, or shortening or movement of the attached string. The IUD should not be felt by the woman or her partner; if it can be, then this is a sign of expulsion.


The IUD can move from its place and perforate, or embed itself into the wall of the uterus. This can occur during insertion. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that it occurs in only 1 out of every 1,000 insertions.

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