9 Signs Your IUD Moved Out Of Place (And It's Time To Get It Checked)

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sad woman sitting on a bed worried her IUD moved out of place

One of the great things about being a woman today is the wide variety of birth control methods available to choose from.

And one of the most popular forms of birth control is the IUD.

An IUD (intrauterine device) is a T-shaped piece of plastic or copper that helps prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm from reaching eggs via the release/presence of either hormones or copper.

IUDs can usually be implanted at your doctor's office with minimal recovery time and they remain effective for years, provided you have the proper IUD placement and that they are correctly implanted.

Countless women swear by IUDs as the best form of birth control, but some women have horror stories to tell about IUD problems, including their devices moving or shifting.

While it doesn't happen often, the possibility of a device shifting or moving inside of your body is one of the risks anyone with an IUD must face.

What causes an IUD to move out of place?

There are a couple of reasons your IUD might shift out of place.

Your body may be getting used to the IUD during the first few months after it was inserted. An IUD may also move if you get strong cramps during or around your period, if your uterus has an extreme tilt, or if you have a small uterine cavity.

RELATED: 12 Women Describe What It Really Feels Like To Get An IUD Inserted Into Them

If your IUD begins to shift, there are potential complications besides pregnancy that can occur, from life-threatening infections to bowel perforations. (Ouch.)

I spoke with Dr. Hodon Mohamed (that's Dr. Hodon, to her friends), a board-certified OB/GYN and a woman, about IUD movement.

"ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists) states that out of every 1,000 IUD insertions there is one that can have the complication of uterine perforation. This is when the IUD moves out the uterus (womb) and is traveling in your abdomen," she says.

The symptoms of a moving or shifting IUD aren't always easy to identify; in fact, some women don't report having any symptoms at all.

Sometimes an IUD can slip out of place or you could experience embedding or expulsion, which is when the IUD slips out of the uterus partially or completely. In some cases, an IUD can push through the wall of the uterus, however, that is extremely rare.

If your IUD slips out even a little bit, it must be removed.

If you suspect that your IUD moved and are worried about the risks, below is a list of signs and symptoms medical experts suggest you watch for.

Important note: If you are experiencing these symptoms and you have an IUD, please consult a medical professional.

9 Signs and Symptoms Of A Displaced IUD

1. You experience pain during sex.

Let's get one thing clear: there is a difference between a change in how sex feels and experiencing pain during sex.

It's pretty common for people to report that certain sexual positions aren't as comfortable for them as they once were after getting an IUD implanted. But pain is a whole other kettle of very sore fish.

The pain could indicate that the IUD moved to a location where it isn't supposed to be, like chilling in the cervix, a real no-no spot even for very tough broads like you and me.

2. Your periods are abnormally heavy or you bleed between periods.

Getting an IUD placed will mean that your periods as you have known them until now may change. If you have an hormonal IUD, expect your flow to be lighter, If you have a copper IUD, expect it to be heavier.

Regardless of which type of IUD you have implanted, if you notice spotting or unusually heavy and painful flows, contact your doctor because this can be a sign your IUD is moving.

3. Your vaginal discharge is abnormal.

Look, let's be real: your vagina is always discharging something. Usually, it's healthy stuff — after all, part of the reason you have vaginal discharge at all is to keep your vagina clean. Discharge is a sign that it's working.

However, discharge that smells strange or looks strange could also be a sign of a shifting IUD. Don't ever be afraid to contact your doctor if you suspect there's something up.

4. Your partner can feel your IUD during sex.

First things first: No, his penis cannot be so huge that it knocks out or shifts your IUD. That's a myth. In fact, your partner shouldn't be able to feel your IUD at all.

If they notice it, that means it's coming through the cervix and that means it's not hanging out where it should be.

To be very clear: feeling the actual device is different from feeling the strings, which is something some partners can do even when the implant is properly placed.

RELATED: 8 Men Reveal What Having Sex With A Woman With An IUD Feels Like

5. The strings are at a different length or you cannot find them.

When your doctor inserts your IUD, she cuts loose some strings that serve a couple of purposes. The first is to make removing the device easier for when the time comes. The second is to help you keep track of the device and make sure it hasn't moved or shifted in your body.

If the strings suddenly seem longer or shorter, or if one or both just vanish, that's a key indicator that something is up with your IUD.

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"You can do monthly string checks by gently inserting one or 2 fingers into the vagina. Once you reach your cervix, which is harder than vaginal soft tissue and will feel like the tip of your nose, try to feel for the strings. If you do not feel the strings, it does not automatically mean your IUD fell out as with the time the strings can get coiled up with each other and be sitting inside the cervical canal," advises Dr. Hodon.

6. You have intense cramping or pain.

It's totally normal to experience period-like cramping right after you get your IUD implanted. If you get a hormonal IUD, you can expect your regular period cramps to become much lighter; if you opt for copper, your cramps might become more severe.

However, if your cramps become more severe, or if they seem to be lasting for longer periods of time, this could mean your body is rejecting your IUD.

7. You get random infections.

Your body has several different ways of letting you know that all is not well. While some people can be entirely asymptomatic when it comes to their IUD moving, others might have another strange symptom — constant recurring infections.

If you keep getting sick and the only change you've made recently is getting an IUD, it might be to blame for your plight.

8. You can feel the plastic of the IUD.

If your partner can feel it during sex, that's one thing — and very much still a sign that it's moving — but if you can feel it when you're doing stuff in the bathroom or just sitting around, your IUD is not where it is supposed to be. It's moved.

Call a doctor!

9. You think you might be pregnant.

While IUDs are designed to prevent pregnancy (and by and large that's, like ... exactly what they do), they can also raise the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, which is an unviable pregnancy that occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus.

If you feel sharp shooting pains in your back and pelvis, and you're feeling tired, moody, or depressed, you might be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy thanks to your shifting birth control.

In this circumstance, seek medical attention, stat.

"The medical emergency of an abnormal ectopic pregnancy also has to be considered along with a normal pregnancy in the uterus. As the IUD is occupying space in the uterus (womb), then pregnancy can also abnormally occur at another location such as the fallopian tubes. This a medical emergency that can present with either abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, or no vaginal bleeding. That is why it is important following up with your provider who placed the IUD to check for placement at the time that has been decided," warns Dr. Hodon.

RELATED: The Best Birth Control For Controlling Your Menstrual Cycle

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. Her work focuses on relationships, pop culture, and news. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.