An intrauterine device (IUD) is placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It may be removed if a woman wants to become pregnant or the device is going to expire.
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Reasons for Procedure
An IUD removal may be done to:
- Take out or replace an expiring IUD
- Allow pregnancy to happen
- Stop unwanted IUD side effects, such as abnormal bleeding or pain
- Switch to a different birth control method
The IUD may also be removed if it fails and a woman becomes pregnant. This is not common.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as damage to nearby organs.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The health team may meet with you to talk about:
- Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take
- Tests that may need to be done, such as a pregnancy test
- Whether you should have someone drive you home after the removal
Anesthesia is often not needed. Some women may need local anesthesia. The area will be numb.
Description of the Procedure
You will lie on an exam table with your feet in footrests. A tool will be inserted into the vagina to make space. The cervix and vagina will be cleaned.
A tool will be passed into the vagina. It will grab the IUD strings. The strings will be gently pulled. This should fold the arms of the IUD and let it slip out of the body. This may cause some cramping or pain. The tools will be removed.
Some IUDs are hard to remove or become stuck. A hysteroscopy may be needed. A scope will be passed through the vagina into the uterus. A camera will show what may be holding the IUD. If needed, tools will help to free it. The tools will be removed.
If the IUD will be replaced, the new one will be inserted.
How Long Will It Take?
It will take about 5 minutes.
Will It Hurt?
You may feel cramping right after the IUD is removed. Bleeding may also be irregular. Medicine and home care can help.
At the Care Center
After the procedure, the staff may talk to you about other methods of birth control if you do not want a pregnancy. You can leave once you are ready.
It may take a few days for spotting to stop. Your period may be irregular as your body adjusts to the IUD removal.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
- Severe belly pain or cramping
- Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
- Heavy bleeding or discharge from the vagina
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 110: Noncontraceptive uses of hormonal contraception. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;115(1):206-218. Reaffirmed August 2012.
Committee on Practice Bulletins-Gynecology, Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Work Group. Practice Bulletin No. 186: Long-Acting Reversible Contraception: Implants and Intrauterine Devices. Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Nov;130(5):e251-e269
Intrauterine device. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/device/intrauterine-device-iud. Accessed August 6, 2020.
Intrauterine device. US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/opa/pregnancy-prevention/birth-control-methods/iud/index.html. Accessed August 6, 2020.
IUD. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/iud-4245.htm. Accessed August 6, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 2/24/2021