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Patient education: IUD removal (The Basics)

Patient education: IUD removal (The Basics)

What is an intrauterine device? — An intrauterine device ("IUD") is a type of birth control. It is a small, T-shaped device that goes in your uterus. A doctor or nurse inserts an IUD through your vagina and cervix (figure 1).

There are 2 categories of IUDs available in the US. One type releases copper, and the other type releases a hormone called "levonorgestrel" (figure 2). An IUD can stay in for years. The exact number of years depends on which device you have.

You might have your IUD removed when you:

Want to try to get pregnant

Want to switch to a different type of birth control

Have gone through menopause (when monthly periods stop)

Have had your IUD for the recommended number of years

A doctor or nurse needs to remove your IUD in the office or clinic.

How do I prepare for IUD removal? — You can get your IUD removed at any time in your menstrual cycle, even during your period.

Before the procedure, your doctor or nurse will talk to you about what to expect.

What happens during removal? — When it is time to remove your IUD:

You will lie on an exam table with your knees bent.

The doctor will use a special tool to hold the walls of your vagina open.

The doctor will use a tool to grasp the strings of the IUD and pull it out quickly. If they cannot easily see the strings, they might need to use other tools to get the IUD out. Your doctor might suggest taking a deep breath then exhaling when the IUD is removed. But this is not required.

You might feel a quick cramp when the IUD comes out.

The doctor will look at the IUD to make sure that it came out in 1 piece.

If you are having another IUD put in, the doctor can do this right after removing the old one. They will clean your cervix, measure the size of your uterus, and insert the new IUD.

The procedure only takes a few minutes.

What happens after removal? — After the procedure:

You can go home right away. You can return to your normal activities as soon as you feel ready.

If you have cramping, you can use over-the-counter pain medicines like acetaminophen (sample brand name: Tylenol), ibuprofen (sample brand names: Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (sample brand name: Aleve).

You might notice a small amount of "spotting" or light bleeding. This should stop within a day or 2.

What are the risks of IUD removal? — Your doctor will talk to you about all of the possible risks and answer your questions. While IUD removal is usually quick and easy, possible risks include:

Being unable to get the IUD out

Bleeding

Infection

Trouble finding the strings

The IUD breaking

What else do I need to know? — After getting your IUD removed:

It is possible to get pregnant any time after an IUD is removed. If you do not want to get pregnant, you need to start using another form of birth control right away.

If you had a copper IUD, your next period will probably come at the normal time. If you had a hormonal IUD, it can take a month or 2 for your cycle to return to normal. But you can still get pregnant before your periods become regular again.

If you would like information about other birth control options, ask your doctor or nurse.

When should I call the doctor? — Call for advice right away if you:

Get a fever higher than 100.5°F (38°C)

Have severe pain in your lower belly

Feel dizzy or pass out

Have vaginal bleeding that is heavier than a normal period and lasts longer than a day

Have bad-smelling discharge from your vagina

More on this topic

Patient education: Intrauterine devices (IUDs) (The Basics)
Patient education: IUD insertion (The Basics)
Patient education: Long-acting methods of birth control (The Basics)
Patient education: Hormonal birth control (The Basics)
Patient education: Emergency contraception (The Basics)
Patient education: Choosing birth control (The Basics)

Patient education: Long-acting methods of birth control (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Emergency contraception (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Birth control; which method is right for me? (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Oct 01, 2023.
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