TikTok user @midwifemama sparked a conversation about IUD insertion.
Social media has become a useful tool for women’s health providers to meet patients where they are, making it easier than ever to raise awareness about topics like contraception and sexual education, and to combat myths and misinformation. TikTok is arguably one of the most powerful platforms for sharing sexual and women’s health content, with #sexualhealth having 899.2 million views and #womenshealth having more than 2 billion.
A recent video on TikTok revived a longstanding debate about intrauterine device (IUD) insertion and sparked a wider conversation: Does it hurt? What about pain relief?
The ongoing debate about whether IUD insertion should be painful is one of the many conversations people are having on TikTok, with #IUDinsertion having 249.8 million views. After TikTok user @midwifemama posted an educational video of IUD insertion, people began sharing their own experiences. The top comment simply reads, “no thanks,” and another, “I’ll stick with the contraceptive patch, thanks.” In another video, she showed the removal process, with the top comment, “and then [obstetrican-gynecologists] think Advil is going to cover that pain,” followed by, “For anyone scared—the removal was painless for me, even though I DIED with the insertion (most painful experience of my life).”
A 2014 study in Contraception found providers often underestimate how painful the insertion process is for the patient.1 A 2015 study, however, found that IUD insertion was less painful than patients thought it would be.2
So, how can providers better prepare patients for getting an IUD? Consider her medical history and offer reassurance. According to a 2021 study in the European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, women who have given birth via vaginal delivery may experience less pain than women who have never given birth.3 Those who have never given birth, on the other hand, may experience more pain.