Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews

The ripples of trauma caused by severe pain during IUD procedures

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 05 August 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1910
  1. Stephanie O’Donohue, content and engagement manager
  1. Patient Safety Learning, London, UK
  1. stephanie.odonohue{at}
    @odonohue_steph on Twitter

More and more women are coming forward to share their stories of a painful IUD procedure. Healthcare services need to get better at recording these experiences, says Stephanie O’Donohue

Examples of excruciating pain experienced during the fitting of an intrauterine contraceptive device (also known as IUD or coil) have not been in short supply over the past month. After the release of a patient led survey focusing on pain scores and the information (or lack of) given to women before the procedure, media coverage has been extensive.1

Perhaps the most notable was when journalist Naga Munchetty kicked off a feature on Radio 5 Live by detailing her own IUD fitting, describing it as “one the most traumatic physical experiences” of her life. She fainted twice and said that she “felt violated, weak, and angry,” an experience which has been echoed by hundreds if not thousands of other women since.

Dawn Harper, a GP and presenter who appeared as a guest on the show, argued that most women do not feel such pain, and that this level of trauma is mainly experienced by those who have not given birth. However, there are …

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