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EDIT: I mentioned detection's suggestion at my appointment, and the midwife cut off the strings inside my cervix, so that nothing at all pokes out into the vagina, after assuring me that it won't cause problems with taking it out when it's time. It means I can't check the strings, but she said that wasn't a problem, just that they might have to use an ultrasound at my annual to make sure it's still in position.

I didn't want to post one way or another until we had a chance to test it out, but I'm delighted to say my husband isn't getting poked or scratched or anything painful at all now.

In other words - I jumped the gun because I was upset, but I do get to keep my Mirena after all! Even if your strings are causing pain to your partner, they can be cut off within the cervix so that he doesn't feel them at all.

Original post:
Hi there. I'm posting because I consider it important for women considering an IUD to know that the string(s) CAN cause pain in a male partner, and trimming the strings is not a cure-all. It may be somewhat uncommon, but it can't be all that rare - I posted the following in my personal journal, and within a day one of the women on my friends-list commented that she had had the same problem, and was surprised to see it wasn't just her.

Since my (admittedley limited) reading on IUD Divas has only turned up the "Oh, if he feels it you can get them trimmed" response, I think it's important to share:

So, March 24th I got a Mirena IUD inserted into my uterus. I'd like to say that it's awesome, that I'm enjoying not needing to take a pill every day, that I'm feeling more emotionally and physically balanced.

Those two things are true, but unfortunately not the whole story.

I had cramps for a while, but those have gone away for the most part. I'm still spotting, but that's supposed to go away after 3 months. I knew both of those were possible side effects, and they're not really a problem.

Unfortunately, there's a BIG problem that wasn't in the patient literature - the little strings that poke out into the vagina so it can be taken back out poke my husband's penis painfully every time we have sex. The threads were trimmed at my follow-up appointment last week, and it's a little better, but now he's getting scratched instead of stabbed - still pain, still bad, still not worth it. Sex should not be painful! (unless you're into that, but neither of us is)

I've written to Bayer to complain and ask them to amend their patient information to include this possible complication, and I'm going to call in the morning for an appointment to have it taken out. It's funny - I was prepared for the idea that I might be wasting the money because of it hurting *me* too much - cramps, bleeding, etc. I'm feeling very disgruntled over having wasted the money for something they didn't warn me about, though. The extent of their patient information on the matter is that "Sometimes male partners feel the threads."

If that had said "May cause male partners pain," I'm pretty sure I would have gone with another option, or at least I would have been prepared for the possibility.


( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 29th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
This is exactly why I left mine long, so it was easier for them to curl up and out of the way. Hubs has only felt them twice, both times I managed to be able to tuck them away again.

Trimming them is not the best option, as once they're shorter (and more stab-y), you can't go back. The only thing you can do after that is trim them so short that they are flush with your cervical os.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)
Long definitely sounds better than short :(
Apr. 29th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
I am slightly confused? The strings is are a common issue, and they WERE in the paperwork I got from planned parenthood. Though it was probably in pp's info and not that which came with the Mirena.

But that info is also all over the internet.

I am actually quite surprised that the person inserting didn't think to mention it, or didn't physically attempt to curl them back for you rather than trimming them. Are they now too short for the doctor to try to curl back? I would at least try that first.
Apr. 29th, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC)
is are? ugh lol
Apr. 29th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
this comment is pretty much exactly what I was going to say!
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
That's why I emailed Bayer to complain - once I ran into the problem, and searched specifically for information on it, I found all sorts of stuff that I didn't come across in my preliminary research, and the only information my gyno provided was the official Mirena booklet. Putting this possibility in the official product literature is the only way to reach everyone who gets the IUD.

Unfortunately, even before my follow-up appointment, it felt like there was only about 1/2 inch of string poking out of my cervix, so not enough length to curl back even before the end was trimmed.
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
I'm confused. You say that you found the information about the strings in the official Mirena booklet; but you've complained to the mfr (and here) that they need to put it in the official literature. What?
Apr. 29th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
I don't mean to offend, but I think that's a bit of a silly decision. You're HAPPY with the Mirena otherwise. There are solutions to the strings. If you've already cut them too short to be tucked away, then they can be cut off entirely so no strings come out of the cervix at all. It is not ideal, and won't make removal fun, but they are not necessary for actual use of the IUD.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
I'll ask about that at my appointment today. Thanks!
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
No problem, and good luck! Whatever happens, I hope it all works out. :)
May. 1st, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you again! It worked out :)

(Now I get to go around correcting my posts... only a couple, thankfully!)
May. 1st, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
Excellent! :D
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC)
Unless they are now too short to curl back, wait on getting it removed. The strings do soften over time. Mine were left very long and while I (and my husband) were annoyed by them at first, after a few months they're pliable enough to tuck away, and have settled into a comfortable position that you can only feel by trying to feel for it.

The patient information (and common sense) tells you that partner poking is a possibility but it also tells you that the strings will soften and settle.

So yeah, basically what everyone else said.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, mine feels extremely short - about 1/2 inch long and not enough to really curl...

detection suggested getting them cut off entirely, so I'll bring that up at my appointment today and see what they say.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, when they're that short, there's nothing to do but cut them off entirely. Or ask for a new one.
Apr. 29th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
My strings are 2cm long, a lil over 1/2 inch...I had them trimmed a month after insertion, and they were soft and are still soft. When did you get the IUD? I know they say its hard for them to soften as such a small length...but mine are soft, and the boyfriend hasn't felt them once
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about your experience. The threads are composed of a monofilament polyethylene which is designed to soften over time. I'm surprised your healthcare provider decided to trim the strings as this would expose the ends. Letting the threads stay long allows them to soften and curl easier.

On Mirena's website, it does mention "male partners may feel the strings" but because of the nature of the material, it softens and isn't supposed to be an issue.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
I wish the person who inserted it had known about leaving them long. I'm going to suggest spreading that idea around the practice when I go for my appointment today.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Mirena strings are 'pokier' than Paragard strings
I actually had the opposite experience with strings. My ParaGard strings poked and never softened; my Mirena strings softened and curled within a few weeks.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:05 pm (UTC)
I don't want to offend either, but you've had your IUD for little over a month, I think if you gave yourself more time, the strings would have softened and curled around your cervix.

In the beginning, my partner was poked by the strings, so my solution was to try to have sex in positions where depth of penetration was better controlled (missionary vs doggy). At my follow-up my physician actually advised against trimming them as a solution. Even after a year and 3 month, my partner occasionally feels the strings, but for him, he considers it an acceptable occurrence in order to prevent pregnancy.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
Is the feeling pain? To me, "feeling" indicates a sense of touch, but not pain. "Pain" is its own, more serious thing. Perhaps I was insensitive to the use of euphamism in the medical literature?

Unfortunately, every position we've tried has hurt him, and even avoiding going deep didn't help much, as well as being unsatisfying. Maybe my vagina's short or something... But thank you for the advice - it *is* worth trying other positions, it just didn't help in our case.

Also unfortunately, the woman who inserted it trimmed the string short at the same time - I didn't know how short (about 3/4-1/2 inch) until a few days later when I got used to feeling for it. String/strings - I only seem to have one rather than multiples, is that normal?
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:30 pm (UTC)
There are two strings, yours are probably hanging out very close to each other so you feel it as one.

That really sucks that they cut your strings so short in the beginning. I would definitely tell them about leaving them longer at your appointment.
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
Lately, when he does feel the string(s), there is no pain, just an awareness of something there. At the beginning there was pain, especially since the strings tended to poke him in his 'pee-hole' (his words). I also waited until the spotting was over to engage in sexual activities (it was a personal choice), which was about a month, and at the time we saw each other only on the weekends so sexy times didn't happen more than 1-2 times a week, so I guess I had more time for the string(s) to soften.

I don't know about the string/strings thing. I rarely ever check my string(s), but I thought there was only one too.

I would normally advocate for waiting before removing, but unless you want to abstain from sex until the string(s) have time to soften and curl, your partner will probably be hurt every time until it they do soften. Maybe an IUD is not right for you? Or maybe if you want to try again, have them leave the strings long and have them tuck them up around your cervix for you.

Apr. 29th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
My guess at this point is that he's slightly injured, so every other attempt at sex just feels all the more painful because he's being poked in a region that is already sensitive. Kind of like biting the inside of your lip and then constantly rubbing over it with food and such. Perhaps a bit of healing time for him, and a bit of time for your strings to get covered in mucous and things may work out well.
My boyfriend complained about 'feeling' them in the beginning and we had a few chats about the difference between him 'feeling' them and being actually painfully poked by anything. He hasn't mentioned it recently, so my guess is that they are getting nice and mucousy so he isn't really feeling them any more.
May. 1st, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
That's a good point - that the poking irritates the previous injury further each time. Fortunately, the midwife was able to cut them off so that nothing's in the vagina at all, so no more pain for him :)
Apr. 29th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this comment, I appreciate it. I mostly lurk here but have posted once since getting my IUD in January. I think far too often on IUD Divas (love it as I do and as much help as it's been), people say that strings DON'T cause pain for our partners and it's not a big deal. My boyfriend also experienced a substantial amount of pain when the strings poked him for the first one-two months after insertion. They did eventually soften and curl around my cervix, and he only feels them (without experiencing pain at this point) every once in a while. I wish you luck in your follow-up and agree with an above suggestion that perhaps you can get your strings trimmed to be flush with your cervix. Let us know how it goes. :)
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
"I think far too often on IUD Divas (love it as I do and as much help as it's been), people say that strings DON'T cause pain for our partners and it's not a big deal."

For some of us, this is true. I don't know that I'd call it being said "too often" if that is, in fact, the case for many women.
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
For MOST of us, this is true.
Apr. 29th, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC)
I'm having a "slow" day and not sure if I'm following, so let me say I'm sorry if I've offended anyone. I just wanted to validate the OP's experiences -- I have seen similar questions posed here and at least once or twice, I have found the responses insensitive -- essentially saying that painful poking was not even a remote possibility, and even if somehow it did happen, it's not OUR problem as women. I realize that's not how everyone here feels (both of these posts I'm referring to probably came from the same person), but I wanted to share my experience this time and let the OP know she's not alone since in the past, those type of responses have offended me. I hope this time this made more sense?
Apr. 30th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
I (at least) wasn't offended, and I think you make a really important point that didn't come across in your first post. It's ridiculous to tell someone that it's not possible their partner's feeling pain from getting poked (and I think I remember seeing the comments you're referring to and being annoyed about them because statements like that are invalidating and false). If he says he's getting poked and it hurts, he's getting poked and it hurts! I've even seen a couple of women here comment that their partners get red dots or scratches from string poking.

If a guy's having issues with strings causing significant pain and he doesn't want to have sex anymore because he's scared of getting poked, it becomes our problem anyway. Not to mention that I really hope most of us don't want to cause our partners non-consensual pain.

I'd thought your original comment was referring to the way most of us tell prospective and new divas that they shouldn't worry about poking, since it's uncommon. Just wanted to clarify that it's uncommon, so I think it's totally reasonable to tell women who are worried before insertion, or before having sex with the IUD for the first time, that the strings don't usually cause pain for partners.
Apr. 30th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC)
All of this.

I wasn't offended, either. It sounded to me like you were saying that people here are trying to cover up that this issue happens or something, which I don't believe is true.
May. 1st, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you :) Your post, and the other helpful posters helped me calm down so I could discuss solutions at my appointment rather than just flat asking for it out.
Apr. 29th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
The shorter the strings are, the more pokey they are going to be. It's like shaving; stubble is more scratchy than long hair. Leave them longer to you can curl them up around your cervix. Otherwise they are ALWAYS going to poke out.
Apr. 29th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
I have always assumed that Mirena doesn't publish anything about "it hurting your male partner's member" because it isn't a side effect to the patient.

Viagra doesn't mention that it might cause soreness for the other partner if an erection lasts 8 hours.
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
I asked my provider about this after insertion and she told me to try using the Mirena alone and if it gave us problems, to come back and I'd be fitted for either a cervical cap or a diaphragm.

Maybe that could work so you could keep the current Mirena?
Apr. 30th, 2010 06:20 am (UTC)
Wouldn't the suction from either cause it to dislodge the Mirena?
Apr. 30th, 2010 06:53 am (UTC)
From what I understand, no. The way the diaphragm fits in place isn't the same way a menstrual cup fits.
The diaphragm contains a spring that creates a seal against the walls but it isn't as strong of a seal as a menstrual cup. A diaphragm is also worn higher in the vagina than a menstrual cup; I'm guessing this difference in position would lessen the likelihood of contact with strings.

As for the cervical cap, I'm not sure. The NP I see at women's health recommended it but I didn't ask her a ton about it at the time.
Apr. 30th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
I've been using a menstrual cup with my 3 year old IUD for almost 2 years now and my menstrual cup fits basically the same way the cervical cap I used years ago fit - for me (and it's different for everyone based on their own anatomy) my cervix sits in my cup and the cup seals around my cervix instead of sitting lower in my vagina.
I have had no issues with suction dislodging my IUD. I've even had sex with my cup in and THAT didn't even dislodge my IUD.

A few months back, someone on here posted that she was using diaphragm to solve the pokey string issue - and I'm assuming all's well for her since there haven't been any "My diaphragm pulled out my IUD" posts...
I kinda think that if your IUD is happy and settled, there's not much chance of dislodging with a little suction.
Apr. 30th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
No one's done any controlled studies, but when I asked my midwife, she said that suction shouldn't be able to pull the IUD out unless it's already out of place. If suction could pull out an IUD, why isn't the suction created during PIV sex a problem? I suspect the cup(etc)/IUD issue has to do with strings, not suction.

You (iudmama) did a survey a while back about expulsion, and found that amongst the women in the community who responded, cup users had about the same expulsion rate as non-cup users, right? The sample size is too small to make much of it, but I think a lot of expulsions that would've happened anyway get blamed on cups.
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
Many couples find that condoms prevent discomfort from the strings while you wait for them to soften and curl by the cervix. Perhaps that's an option for you?
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
I've seen a couple of people here say they buy a pack of sea-sponge "tampons," which can be worn during sex, and insert one before sex to cushion the penis from the strings.
Apr. 29th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
I'm a new paragard user, and so far, my husband has not felt the strings at all. (even with different positions) They were not trimmed.

Just my .02
Apr. 29th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
So, what if they can feel the strings! I"m sorry if I offend anyone, but . . . my partner did not want to get a vasectamy so, I chose to have an IUD inserted. Us, women go thru alot of crap just so we don't end up pregnant. Yes, my partner does feel the strings on occasion, but I will not get them trimmed. I paid lots of $$$ and I have not had any problems with my iud. I'm totally happy with my and I intend to keep it. The strings should soften over time and I'm hoping that they will. Meantime my partner and I just adjust positions if he starts to feel pain.
Apr. 30th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
i agree completely!!

While I dont think that its okay if the guys are actually in PAIN, i find it quite hard to believe that 2 fishing lines can actually cause PAIN. Unless of course the strings are cut so short they become stubbly and stabby - in that case, just remove them completely, we dont need them anyway! Sometimes I think it is more psychological on the guys part that they know something is in there.. and god forbid anything goes near their precious penis!

My boyfriend is very large and felt the strings a few times when we were having sex right after I got the IUD, but they didnt bother him -he was just so happy I had finally found a birth control where i wasnt in pain (emotionally or hormonally!) and that I loved, that I think he would have kept his mouth shut completely about feeling them if I hadnt asked him specifically if he did feel them. Now he doesnt feel them at all..

And u are right, there are easy fixes around the men/string issue - keep changing positions until u find one that works while u wait for the strings to "soften" or remove the strings completely.

And ya, the majority (and I mean MAJORITY) of women and their partners do not have a problem with the strings causing pain.. and actually I dont think its anything that should EVER stop a woman from finding a birth control that makes her happy, especially seeing as it is not very common for the men to be in any pain whatsoever. If it isnt in the pamphlet, im glad it isnt. And if it is, i hope women considering IUDs take it with a grain of salt.
May. 1st, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
I hope you don't mean "so what if they're in pain." Because that would be incredibly insensitive and mean. I tried to be very clear that it was a matter of pain, not just "feeling."
May. 1st, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
I agree
Jun. 24th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
I've had Paraguard for over a year, left the strings long. They softened up over time, my periods are back to normal. The problem now is my husband is getting scratched every time we do it, leaving him in pain with visibly red, inflamed scratches hours later. This only started recently. I think the strings might be knotted up or something. I will ask my gyno to trim them up all the way. Other than that, I would highly recommend the copper IUD as a hormone-free, (relatively) hassle-free contraceptive.
Oct. 3rd, 2013 03:11 am (UTC)
I have mine and my doc said it should curl up and tuck around the cervix. If it does not do this in its own I would go in and ask them to physically Rick it around the cervix for you. If you cut it the string might stick straight down and cause more pain for your husband/boyfriend. Also if the string is too short it could go up into the uterus and then you will have to get the iud surgically removed.
Ricky James
Oct. 19th, 2013 02:15 am (UTC)
I feel that I need to take picture of my penis after intercourse with my wife to show proof of how bad this is irritating my penis. It is not only red scratch marks and irritation, but it is evening causing sores. At first I thought I had somehow contracted herpes. It took me a while to figure out this was the culprit because the irritation and sores would last for days. The worst part of the irritation is on the shaft beneath the head. The abrasions will be on different areas of the shaft and my wife has had the IUD for about a year. She had the strings cut back due to discomfort after a few months. The sex itself is not extremely painful, but the pain comes more after the fact.
( 49 comments — Leave a comment )