An intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of temporary birth control for women. The device is usually used to prevent pregnancy. It is inserted into the uterus though the vagina by a healthcare professional.
A woman with an IUD may decide to have it removed. IUD removal is done by a healthcare professional. You should never remove an IUD yourself.
There are 2 types of IUDs:
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Reasons to remove an IUD may include:
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.
Your doctor will go over the steps to remove the IUD. This is 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 usually be managed with over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen.
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, such as 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. You will be asked to take deep, slow breaths. It is important to relax during the procedure. Forceps or other tools will be used 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.
The procedure only takes a few minutes to set up and perform.
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.
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
Office on Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
IUD. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/iud-4245.htm. Accessed March 8, 2018.
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Mirena prescribing information. Mirena website. Available at: http://labeling.bayerhealthcare.com/html/products/pi/Mirena_PI.pdf. Updated June 8, 2017. Accessed March 8, 2018.
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The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 110: Noncontraceptive uses of hormonal vontraception. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;115(1):206-218. Reaffirmed August 2012.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 4/30/2014