Children's Hospital Colorado

We’re passionate about providing answers, treatment and care for the full range of female reproductive health concerns, from infancy through adolescence and into adulthood.



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What is an intrauterine device (IUD)?

An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a type of birth control that’s inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Because IUDs also release hormones, we can use them for hormonal therapy to manage periods, including menstrual suppression. Menstrual suppression helps lessen the effects of periods such as pain and bleeding. In pediatric and adolescent gynecology, we use a hormonal IUD to treat heavy periodspainful periodsendometriosis and many other conditions.

The IUD is also a long-acting contraceptive device that’s highly effective at preventing pregnancy. The IUD brands Mirena® and Liletta® are currently FDA-approved for eight years. At that time, your doctor can replace the IUD with a new one, if desired. We can also remove the IUD sooner than 8 years, if requested.

How does an IUD work?

An illustration of what the IUD looks like after it’s been inserted into the uterus.

The IUD sits inside the uterus and releases a medication called progesterone.

Progesterone thins the lining of the uterus so menstrual periods are very light or don’t occur at all. In addition to reducing blood loss from periods that cause heavy bleeding, we can also use IUDs to treat endometriosis and reduce pelvic pain and cramping.

The IUD works as birth control because it blocks sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes where fertilization occurs.

IUD placement under anesthesia

We commonly perform an IUD insertion without anesthesia during an office visit. But some prefer to have anesthesia for the procedure. Our doctors suggest an IUD insertion under anesthesia if your child can’t tolerate a pelvic exam or the pain caused by the insertion procedure. Other common reasons for placing IUDs under anesthesia include:

  • Teens and young adults with development delays and special medical needs may request menstrual suppression
  • Previous attempts at insertion without anesthesia have been unsuccessful
  • Those with chronic pelvic pain or endometriosis may not be able to tolerate an IUD insertion without anesthesia

How to prepare for an IUD placement procedure

The IUD is a safe and effective way to reduce or stop menstrual periods, cramping and bleeding. If you’re a parent bringing your child in for the procedure, reassure them it’s safe and they will not feel the IUD inside their uterus afterwards. You or your child can also enjoy all the same activities as before the procedure.

Before the appointment, we recommend you have ibuprofen (Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), menstrual products and a heating pad at your house for when you return.

On the day of the appointment:

  • Eat and drink normally.
  • Take ibuprofen about 30 minutes before your visit.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early for check-in.
  • Be sure you can give a urine sample at the start of your visit.

What to expect during an IUD placement under anesthesia

After the anesthesiologist gives the anesthesia and the patient is asleep, the doctor performs a gentle pelvic exam to understand the direction and size of the uterus. They then place a small instrument, called a speculum, inside the vagina so they can see the cervix, which is the opening to the uterus. The doctor measures the uterus in length, places the IUD inside, then cuts the string of the IUD so they can easily remove it later.

It usually takes less than five minutes to insert the IUD, however, most patients spend about 3 to 4 hours at the hospital for an IUD insertion under anesthesia. This total time includes preparing for the procedure, medication for anesthesia and waiting for the anesthesia to wear off after the procedure. We invite families to stay with their children before and after the procedure.

What to expect after an IUD placement under anesthesia

With minor procedures like this, kids usually wake up in the postoperative area hungry and eager to go home. You or your child can eat and drink in the post-op area as soon as they wake up and can leave once the doctor says they can go home.

Most patients have no cramps or pain for the first 24 to 28 hours after the procedure due to the anesthesia medication. Patients can use over-the-counter medication for pain if they need it at home. Some may experience light menstrual bleeding or spotting following the procedure, but others will have no bleeding at all. If you or your child experience cramping, use a heating pad to ease the discomfort, as well as medication commonly used for menstrual cramps such as ibuprofen.

Plan on having a relaxed day after getting an IUD. While some may feel like they can go to work or school, we recommend going home to rest. Most patients can return to normal activities the day after their procedure. During the first 3 to 6 months of using the IUD, there may be irregular bleeding or spotting (light bleeding or brownish discharge). This may happen every day or only a few days per month. Over time, menstrual periods are usually very light or do not occur at all.

Why choose us for an IUD placement under anesthesia?

Our doctors at Children’s Colorado have decades of experience using the hormonal IUD for menstrual suppression and treating other gynecologic conditions as well. In addition to their extensive experience with IUDs, all our doctors and nurses are trained to work with children and teens and are skilled at helping put them and their families at ease before, during and after the procedure. While some hospitals may not have pediatric-trained anesthesiologists, ours are specially trained to work with children and teens, as well as with adults.

If you have any questions or concerns, call the ParentSmart Healthline toll free at 1-855-KID-INFO (543-4636). Caring pediatric nurses are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help.