IUDs — or intrauterine devices — are birth control methods that sit in your uterus and use either hormones or copper to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are one of the most effective methods of birth control and need little maintenance to work.
You can get it inserted by a healthcare professional and removed either by a healthcare professional — the most common option — or remove it yourselves. However, what’s the process of removal like?
Why you may want to remove your IUD?
Depending on the IUD you have, you can keep your IUD as a contraceptive for anywhere between 3 and 10 years. After that, typically, you can choose to get it taken out either for medical reasons or because it has expired.
Some of the health reasons that an IUD might be removed are:
- Because you want to get pregnant
- To stop out-of-control IUD side effects like pain or bleeding
- To switch to a different contraceptive
- Your IUD has caused a pelvic infection
Rarely, IUDs have been known to move around in your body, damage your womb, or sometimes be ejected from your womb. In most of those cases, you’ll know when something has happened.
Additionally, when your doctor installs your IUD, they’ll leave strings that trail out of your uterus. You’ll be able to feel for those strings and check whether your IUD is still in place.
In fact, you can also use these strings to remove your IUD by yourself should you need to. But, of the 59% of women who tried to remove their IUD, only one in five was successful. For many women, the idea that their doctor does not solely control their birth control is a reason to choose that birth control method.
This is perhaps why less than 10 percent of all women in the United States use IUDs even though they represent the most convenient, practical, and cost-effective birth control method. Either way, you should seek out a doctor to remove your IUD.
What’s the process for IUD removal?
If you’re choosing to remove your IUD, simply make an appointment with your doctor. Signs that you might need to seek immediate medical attention and remove your IUD in an emergency are:
- Severe vaginal bleeding
- Nausea or vomiting
- Intense pelvic pain
- Belly pain
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or weak
Removing an IUD without complications shouldn’t take very long and shouldn’t be very painful. Most people say that IUD insertion is more painful than its removal. Still, your doctor may recommend you take ibuprofen before the removal in case of any pain or discomfort.
Usually, the steps of getting your IUD removed are:
- You’ll assume the position that you would typically take to get a pelvic exam. This includes laying on your back and putting your feet in stirrups.
- Then, your healthcare provider will put a speculum in your vagina to find the strings of your IUD. If your provider can’t find the strings, they’ll insert a tool inside your cervix to get to the strings.
- Your provider will then pull on the strings — which will most often remove the IUD from the cervix through the vagina.
- Finally, your doctor will remove the speculum, and your IUD removal is done.
Usually, the part of the procedure that’ll hurt the most is the process of tugging the IUD out of your cervix and vagina. However, this should not last very long. If you want to get another IUD, simply let your doctor know. You can often get a new IUD inserted immediately after your IUD removal.
To take care of yourself after removing the IUD, you can simply take ibuprofen and rest. If you had to get your IUD removed due to infection, take the antibiotics your doctor most likely has already prescribed to you.
After you get your IUD removed, you’ll immediately be able to get pregnant. Unless you are trying to get pregnant, it’s not recommended to go without birth control.
Talk to your doctor if you want to start a new method of birth control and begin that method as soon as possible.
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MyHealth.Alberta.ca: "IUD Removal: Care Instructions."
NHS: "Intrauterine device(IUD)."
University of California San Francisco: "IUD Self-Removal."
University of Michigan Health: "IUD Removal."