The intrauterine device (IUD) is a method of birth control that is placed in your uterus. It is a small, plastic, T-shaped device that contains copper or hormones. You can depend on an IUD to prevent pregnancy for 3 to 10 years, depending on the type.
Your doctor will remove your IUD when it has reached its expiration date or if you have a medical problem. It's always your choice to have it removed sooner if you want to change birth control methods or plan to become pregnant.
How is an IUD removed?
An IUD removal normally takes just a few minutes. Most women find it is less painful or uncomfortable than having an IUD inserted. But ask your doctor if it's a good idea to take ibuprofen ahead of time in case of cramping.
- You will lie on the exam table on your back. Your feet will be in stirrups as they would be for a pelvic exam.
- Your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina and look for the IUD strings. The strings usually come through the opening of your cervix. If they aren't there, your doctor can insert a thin tool through your cervix to get the strings.
- Your doctor will pull steadily on the IUD strings. This usually pulls the IUD through the cervix and out of the vagina.
- Then your doctor will remove the speculum.
Don't go without birth control unless you plan to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about other forms of birth control. Make sure to start your new method right away.
If you plan to get another IUD, your doctor can insert it during the same appointment.
How do you take care of yourself after the IUD is removed?
- Take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) to prevent or relieve pain from cramps.
- If your IUD was removed because of an infection and your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
Current as of: February 23, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rebecca Sue Uranga