BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty suffered excruciating pain, fainted twice and felt “violated” when she had a coil fitted a few years ago.
Naga also said that, while her GP was “really great”, she wasn’t offered sedation or anaesthetic.
She said it was “one of the most traumatic physical experiences I’ve had”.
Naga added that, during the procedure, her screams were “so loud” that her husband tried to find out which room she was in to stop the procedure.
So should you be worried about having a coil fitted?
To alleviate any fears women may have about choosing a coil – or IUD – ED! has spoken to a couple of experts in the field.
And they both told us that the “vast majority” of fittings “straight forward”.
Dr Deborah Lee exclusively told ED!: “In my experience, having fitted coils for 30 years, the vast majority of coil fittings are straight forward.
“The patient usually gets up off the couch after the fitting and remarks it was far less painful than she had feared.”
Why did Naga Munchetty have such a bad experience with the coil?
Gynaecologist Dr Ellie Rayner said the majority of women “find the procedure uncomfortable, rather than painful”.
However, she added: “But pain is extremely subjective. I have cared for women who have found it excruciating and requested the procedure to stop.
“It is important to know that you do not have to tolerate any pain or discomfort and must let your healthcare professional know how you are feeling and/or request them to stop.
“Many women find taking paracetamol and ibruprofen beforehand sufficient. However, equally some women prefer to have either local or a general anaesthetic and this is possible too.”
She said that Naga may have felt more pain because, having not had children, her cervix would not have been opened before – and it’s that which would have caused the pain.
Why does pregnancy make coil fitting easier?
Dr Rayner said: “It is usually worse if you have never had a vaginal birth before, or any other type of gynaecological procedure – such as a termination of pregnancy or surgical management of miscarriage – where the cervix, or neck of the womb, will have already been dilated or opened up.”
She added: “If you have had a vaginal birth or procedure before, the cervix will never quite closes as firmly as it was beforehand, making it easier to undertake the procedure.”
Dr Lee agrees, and also explained why Naga fainted twice during her coil fitting.
She said: “There is well known complication at coil fitting called cervical shock. This can happen when pressure is applied to the cervix as a reflex action of the vagus nerve. It is unpredictable.
“However, we try to tamper with the cervix as little as possible and get the coil fitting done quickly and efficiently.
“In someone who hasn’t had children, if you have to dilate the cervix, this is likely to increase the risk of cervical shock.
“In practice, we do all we can to prevent cervical shock. And it is actually uncommon in the coil clinic,” she assured.
Can you feel the coil once it’s in?
“Over the first few weeks, particularly if it is your first coil, you may be aware of a general lower discomfort like period pain,” said Dr Rayner.
“However, after that, and once it has settled, usually you would be unaware of it.
“This is why it is so important to check your strings regularly to make sure it is sill in place if you are relying on it for contraception.”
Does coil removal hurt?
“Most women find the removal much less painful than insertion as the neck of the womb does not need to be dilated for this,” Dr Rayner said.
“Please be reassured removing a coil is as easy as falling off a log!” Dr Lee added.
“The doctor or nurse will grab the coil threads and give a quick tug and the IUD will be gone in less than a second.”
Advice for women worried after Naga Munchetty’s coil experience
Dr Lee is quick to offer reassurance for those considering having a coil fitted.
“Try not to let your fears put you off having such an excellent form of contraception,” she told ED!.
“Most women have very easy coil fittings and say it was far better than they anticipated. Coil fittings like Naga’s do happen, but they are not common.”
She also had some advice for those thinking of having one fitted.
“Choose where you go carefully. The coil fitter should be regularly fitting coils. The minimum for certification is 12 coils per year. But an experienced coil fitter will be fitting many more than this.”
Dr Ellie Rayner is an obstetrician, gynaecologist and founder of The Maternity Collective.
Dr Deborah Lee is from the Dr Fox Pharmacy, a fully regulated UK online doctor and pharmacy service managed by NHS GPs.
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