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Methods of Pain Relief

Numbing Spray

Painless, quick-acting local anaesthetic spray

How does it work?

Local anaesthetic is sprayed onto the surface of the cervix before the procedure.

How long does it take to work?

In most cases numbing is instant, but can sometimes take upto 5 minutes to work.

How effective is it?

Studies have shown that numbing spray has proven to reduce insertion-related pain by approximately 35%.

How long does it take to wear off?

Approx. between 1 – 3 hours

Are there any side effects?

Common side effects are mild burning or itching where the medicine is applied – more serious side effects can occur but are uncommon, these can be discussed further with your clinician.

Is this method for me?

This method is a quick, simple, and effective and is sprayed directly onto the cervix – this method should not be used if you are allergic to lidocaine or any other anaesthetics in the same class.

Can it be used with other methods?

Gas & Air and Numbing gel

Numbing Gel

Local anaesthetic applied onto cervix & womb

How does it work?

An applicator is used to apply the gel in your cervix and womb.

How long does it take to work?

The numbing can take approx. 5-10 minutes after its application.

How effective is it?

This is a limited form of pain relief. Studies have shown that numbing gel reduces pain by approximately 4% for coil insertion. The gel is an effective antiseptic to reduce the risk of infection and is effective in relaxing the cervix and providing lubrication.

How long does it take to wear off?

Approx. 30 – 60 minutes

Are there any side effects?

Common side effects are mild burning or itching where the medicine is applied – more serious side effects can occur but are uncommon.

Is this method for me?

The application of this method is painless. However, sometimes it can feel cold/warm when inserted into the uterus. This method should not be used if you are allergic to lidocaine or any other anaesthetics in the same class.

Can it be used with other methods?

Cervical block, Gas & Air

Gas & Air

Self-controlled pain relief you breathe in

How does it work?

A mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas that you breathe in through a mask or mouthpiece as needed. The pain relief comes from the body releasing its own opioids, which can have a similar effect to morphine.

How long does it take to work?

This method takes effect approx. 15-20 seconds after breathing in the gas.

How effective is it?

Gas & Air is a moderate form of pain relief, it will not remove all pain but will make it a lot more bearable.

How long does it take to wear off?

A few minutes

Are there any side effects?

There are no serious side effects, however some patients might feel nauseous or dizzy when using Gas & Air.

Is this method for me?

This is a fast and effective method of pain relief. Furthermore, this method if self-controlled which means you can have as much or as little as you need.

Can it be used with other methods?

Numbing spray, Numbing gel and Cervical block.

Cervical Block

Pain relief injected into the cervix

Only available with Consultant Doctor appointments

How does it work?

This is a form of local anaesthesia injected into the the cervix to temporarily block the nerves in the area to reduce pain.

How long does it take to work?

The method should work as soon as it is applied to the cervix.

How effective is it?

This is an effective form of pain relief. Studies have shown that coil fittings were found to be 24% less painful with a cervical block, and that 78.1% of women that received this method of pain relief would recommend it to a friend.

How long does it take to wear off?

Approx. between 1 – 2 hours.

Are there any side effects?

Common side effects include are numbness, nausea and dizziness. There are less common more serious side effects which can be discussed with your clinician.

Is this method for me?

The application of this method can feel cold/warm when inserted into the uterus, along with a slight sting. This method should not be used if you are allergic to lidocaine or any other anaesthetics in the same class.

Can it be used with other methods?

Numbing gel and Gas & Air

Coil Removal

Copper Coil Fitting

Hormonal Coil Fitting

Frequently Asked Questions

Which pain relief method is best?

This depends on a number of factors unique to you. Your clinician will be able to help you make an informed decision about the best form of pain relief for you based on your individual circumstances.

Will the procedure be completely painless?

We cannot guarantee that the procedure will be completely painless as everyone has a different pain tolerance – however we can assure you that we will do everything we can to make the procedure as comfortable as possible for you.

What happens if I cannot handle the pain?

You are free to stop the procedure at any time. Our clinicians will guide you through the entire procedure and encourage you to be completely open with them about how you feel – open and honest communication will lead to the best experience for you, and our clinicians are there to support you.

Can I bring someone with me?

You are free to bring a partner, friend, or family member with you for support – we want this experience to be as comfortable as possible for you. Our clinicians work together with assistants/chaperones, so there will always be someone to support you. 

Don’t wait months.

Page reviewed by Dr Praveen Jayadeva & Julie Milsom

Last reviewed date: 1 April 2022
Next review due: 1 April 2025

Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.

References & Further Reading