Finding the right form of birth control for you can be difficult. Obviously, we want it to do one thing very well: prevent pregnancy! But there are so many options, and many of them have different pros and cons we need to consider. For some women, hormonal birth control is the way to go. But for many others, hormonal birth control can be difficult to tolerate, or they have a hard time remembering to take a pill every day. There are condoms, but when compared to other forms of birth control, they have a slightly higher rate of failure. Plus, they can be inconvenient. Surgical options exist, but they can be expensive, plus you have to factor in the procedure and recovery time.
For a lot of women, intrauterine devices are the best, most convenient option. IUDs are incredibly effective at preventing pregnancy, at over 99%. They need only be inserted once every 10 years (5 for hormonal IUDs), so there's nothing to remember. Plus, with insurance, they can end up being more cost effective than other methods.
But having an IUD inserted can be an unpleasant and even painful experience. For a lot of women, the fear of the pain and discomfort stops them from considering an IUD for their birth control needs. However, a new insertion device called a suction cervical retractor may be the answer doctors are looking for when it comes to lessening IUD insertion pain. According to a recent study, women who had an IUD put in using this new tool reported less pain during and after the procedure.
For decades, doctors have used a tool called the single-tooth tenaculum. It looks like a pair of scissors, but the end has two small "teeth" which are used to pinch the cervical tissue and move or hold the cervix in place for insertion. That just SOUNDS painful! And many women experience pain and trauma from the procedure. But the new suction cervical retractor accomplishes the same thing using suction, no metal teeth. In the study, women were asked to rate their pain during IUD insertion on a scale of 0-100 (100 being the worst pain imaginable). The women whose insertions were done using the tenaculum reported an average pain level of 57. The women who had the suction insertion reported an average pain level of 31.
It might not seem like a big difference, but a 20-point difference is a really big deal to women considering an IUD. If you've been considering one but are concerned about pain during insertion, talk to your doctor about the options available to you!