Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Introduction to birth control
- What are intrauterine devices (IUDs)?
- What are the types of intrauterine devices (IUDs)?
- How does an intrauterine device (IUD) work?
- What are the advantages of an intrauterine device (IUD)?
- What are the side effects of an intrauterine device (IUD)?
- How is an IUD removed?
- What are the risks and complications of intrauterine devices (IUDs)?
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
How is an IUD removed?
An IUD must be removed by a health care professional. It is very important that a woman not attempt to remove an IUD on her own, as serious problems may result. IUD removal is carried out by determining the position of the uterus, then locating and grasping the stings of the IUD with a special forceps or clamp. The health care professional will then remove the IUD by gentle traction on the strings.
Occasionally, the strings of the IUD will not be located. In these situations, the strings have often slipped higher into the cervical canal. Your health care professional can use special instruments to locate the strings and/or remove the IUD. Complications of IUD removal are rare, and removal can take place at any time. Some studies have shown that removal is easier during the menstrual period, when a woman's cervix is typically softer, than during other times in the menstrual cycle.
What are the risks and complications of intrauterine devices (IUDs)?
An IUD may not be appropriate for women who have heavy menstrual bleeding, had previous pelvic infections, have more than one sexual partner, or plan on getting pregnant. This is because IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STDs) and should not be in place if a woman intends to become pregnant.
If women become pregnant with their IUDs in place, 50% of the pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Women who use non-progesterone types of IUDs are less likely to have an ectopic pregnancy compared to women using no contraception. When a woman using an IUD does become pregnant, the pregnancy is more likely to be ectopic, but still ectopic pregnancy in a user of an IUD is a rare occurrence.
Serious complications due to infection associated with an IUD may prevent a woman from being able to become pregnant in the future.
Also, with the progesterone-releasing IUD (levonorgestrel IUD), a reduction in menstrual flow and a decrease in painful menstrual cramping are often observed with continued use. This is because the progesterone hormone can cause thinning of the lining of the uterus. These menstrual changes are not dangerous in any way and do not mean that the contraceptive action of the IUD is diminished.
The IUD provides no protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Mikio A Nihira, MD; American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Previous contributing authors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Carolyn Janet Crandall, MD, FACP
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