Eventually, a woman must have an IUD removed, since IUDs do not disintegrate and, for the most part, will not come out on their own. The procedure of an IUD removal is often easier, less painful, and quicker than the insertion.
It is especially important to note that a woman should never try to remove her IUD by herself or ask an unqualified person to do so as this could cause serious damage.
Reasons for an IUD Removal:
A woman may have several reasons why she would want her IUD removed. These could include:
- Wanting to become pregnant
- Continual side effects that a woman can no longer tolerate
- The development of an infection
- A woman may just not like it
The IUD Removal Procedure:
An IUD can be removed at anytime during the menstrual cycle. However, studies has shown that it may be a little easier to remove an IUD during menstruation because the cervix is naturally softened at that time.
Generally, expect some of the same initial steps performed during your IUD insertion, such as determining the position of the uterus. Once the IUD strings are located, a qualified professional will remove the IUD by using forceps or clamps to securely grasp the strings and slowly pull out the IUD at a certain angle. The flexible arms of the IUD will fold up as the IUD slides through the opening of the cervix.
IUD removal is usually a routine and uncomplicated procedure. In some cases, though, your doctor may not be able to locate the strings. If this occurs, it is most likely due to the fact that the strings have slipped up into the cervical canal which can occur if they were cut too short (either at insertion or at the request of a woman because her partner was able to feel them during intercourse).
Your doctor may try to locate the strings and gently pull them out of your cervix with narrow forceps/tweezers or cotton-tipped swabs. Once the strings are located, then the IUD removal will proceed as described above.
It may also be possible that the strings have retracted up into the uterus. If this is the case, your health-care professional may use a sound (a measuring instrument) or a sonogram to make sure that the IUD is still in the uterus (and was not expelled without the woman realizing it).
If the strings cannot be located and the doctor has confirmed that the IUD is still in place, the IUD can be removed from the uterus with forceps or tweezer-like clamps. Your doctor will be careful, so that your uterus is not injured during this process.
More Serious Complications:
Very rarely, an IUD may have become embedded in the uterine wall and can not easily be pulled out. Your doctor can use various techniques such as ultrasound imaging, hysterography (x-rays of the uterus after instillation of a contrast medium), or hysteroscopy (direct viewing of the uterus with a fiberoptic instrument) to determine if this has occurred.
If the IUD has perforated (punctured) or is embedded in the uterus, your health-care professional may have to dilate your cervix and use forceps to dislodge the IUD. Most of the time, a local anesthetic will be applied during this type of removal.
Replacing an IUD:
You can easily have a new Mirena IUD or ParaGard IUD inserted immediately after your old IUD is removed. This can all be done in one office visit, provided there are no complications.
Some women have been left to believe that they have to have their Mirena IUD or Paragard IUD removed if they switch sexual partners. This is a myth as the IUD will continue to work just as effectively regardless to how many sexual partners you have.
Of Special Caution:
When planning a day for your IUD removal, keep in mind that if you have your IUD removed near the time that you are ovulating, you could be at risk for becoming pregnant if you have had recent intercourse before the IUD is removed.
Sperm can live inside the vagina for up to 5 days.
Therefore, as an example, let’s say that you are scheduled to have your IUD removed on June 12, so you have intercourse on June 11 (one last time)! All goes as planned, and you have your IUD removal on June 12. If you ovulate on June 12, June 13, June 14, or June 15, you may become pregnant since the sperm (from your intercourse on June 11) can still be inside of you waiting to fertilize an egg. It is a wise idea not to have any intercourse (unless you also use a condom) for one week before your IUD removal to lower the likelihood that this scenario would occur.
Hur, H.C., MD. (2007). "New Tools for Minimally Invasive Surgery for Women’s Health." The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Treiman, K., Liskin, L., Kols, A., and Rinehart, W. (December 1995). "IUDs — An Update." Population Reports, Series B, No. 6. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Population Information Program.