An intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of temporary birth control for women. The device is usually used to prevent pregnancy. The hormone-releasing device may be used for other reasons. It is inserted into the uterus though the vagina by a doctor. The uterus carries the fetus during pregnancy.
A woman with an IUD may decide to have it removed. IUD removal is done by a doctor. You should never remove an IUD yourself.
There are two types of IUDs:
- Hormone-releasing—Releases the hormone progestin. Can be left in the body for 5 years before it needs to be replaced.
- Copper—Releases copper ions. Can be left inside the body for 10 years.
Reasons for Procedure
Reasons to remove an IUD may include:
- It has expired or needs to be replaced
- You get a sexually transmitted infection
- Side effects, such as abnormal bleeding or pain
- Heavy and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- IUD fails and you become pregnant
- You want to use a different birth control method
- You want to become pregnant
- Your menstrual periods have ended due to menopause
- You need treatment that requires the IUD to be removed
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have your IUD removed, be aware that cramping and bleeding may occur during the removal process. However, this is normal. Some women may experience fainting or near-fainting just after the procedure.
An IUD can be removed at any time, but it may be easier during a woman’s menstrual period, since the cervix (opening of the uterus) is softer. Once the IUD is removed, a woman is able to become pregnant again.
Note: If you have the IUD removed during the middle of your menstrual cycle and you had sex during the week before removal, you may be at risk of being pregnant.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will go over the steps to remove the IUD. This is also a good time to ask your doctor any questions regarding the procedure. It is important to think about what other type of birth control you will want to use once the IUD is out if you do not want to become pregnant. Sometimes you may need to start the other method before the IUD is removed.
In most cases, no anesthesia is used. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Description of the Procedure
This procedure is usually done in an office or clinic setting with no need for an overnight stay.
First, the doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina to see the cervix. The doctor may clean your cervix and vagina with an antiseptic, like iodine. Next, the strings attached to the IUD will be located. The strings usually hang out from the cervix into the far back of the vagina. The doctor will ask you to take deep, slow breaths. It is important to relax during the procedure. Your doctor will use forceps or other tools to grasp the strings and gently pull the IUD out.
If you are having your IUD replaced, the new IUD will be inserted at this time.
There may be situations where it is difficult to remove the IUD. In these cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist. There is a chance that the IUD may need to be removed using a hysteroscope. This is a long, thin telescope with a camera and tools on the end. The hysteroscope will be inserted into your vagina and uterus to locate and remove the IUD.
How Long Will It Take?
The procedure only takes a few minutes to set up and perform.
Will It Hurt?
You may experience cramping and bleeding while the IUD is being removed. This is normal.
Be sure to follow any instructions your doctor gave you when you return home after the procedure. If you are starting a new contraceptive method, make sure you ask any questions about it. If you are going to attempt pregnancy, begin taking prenatal vitamins.
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Severe cramps, pain, or tenderness in your abdomen
- Fever or chills
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding or unusual discharge from your vagina
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 01/2015 -
- Update Date: 04/30/2014 -