How Is An Intrauterine Device (IUD) Removed?
The IUD is a small T-shaped device that’s inserted into your uterus. It prevents pregnancy because it releases hormones that prevent ovulation. You may have heard of the IUD, but not many people actually know what it is or how to remove one. There are two types of intrauterine devices: hormonal and copper. Hormonal IUDs release levonorgestrel, which prevents fertilization. Copper IUDs release copper ions that prevent implantation. Both types work by preventing eggs from attaching to the lining of the womb so they cannot develop into babies.
Hormone-releasing intrauterine devices (like birth control pills) are usually removed with surgery called hysterotomy or hysterectomy. A doctor will make small cuts in your fallopian tubes, then insert a thin tube through them and put something like a tiny drill bit inside.
They’ll pull out the IUD and drain it out. Some doctors use suction to get rid of the IUD.
Another option is using laparoscopic surgery, where you remove part of your uterus with a camera. Then another surgeon uses instruments to open up your cervix (the lower portion of your womb).
Another option is a transcervical resection, which is done with instruments and a camera.
A copper IUD (such as ParaGard) can only be removed through surgery if you want to become pregnant or if you experience problems. After about 10 years, some women might not be able to get pregnant after removal of the ParaGard IUD.
Other people, however, return to normal fertility without any problems.
Other types of IUDs can be removed at any time during the 10 years they’re in place. However, your doctor will need to make sure that your body doesn’t react badly to the materials found in the device.
Reasons You Might Need IUD Removal Surgery
There are a few reasons you might need IUD removal surgery and fast. These include:
Serious injury or infection. If you suffer a serious injury, such as a car crash, the IUD might have moved to a location that makes it impossible to reach during removal surgery.
You might also suffer an infection that could become life-threatening without immediate treatment. Even if the device doesn’t cause an infection, it can still narrow the opening to your uterus and make future pregnancies problematic. In any case, you’ll need emergency IUD removal surgery right away.
Perforation. During IUD insertion, there’s always the risk that the device could accidentally move through the wall of your uterus.
This is very painful and can cause life-threatening infections. In this situation, you’ll need emergency surgery to remove the IUD and repair any damage.
Ectopic pregnancy. If you become pregnant while your IUD is in place, you could develop a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.
This is when the embryo implants somewhere other than your uterus, such as in one of your fallopian tubes. An ectopic pregnancy requires emergency surgery to remove the embryo because it cannot survive there. If left untreated, the fallopian tube could burst, causing life-threatening bleeding. You should contact your doctor immediately if you think you may be pregnant or have signs of a possible ectopic pregnancy.
IUD left in place after removal. Occasionally, an IUD will be taken out, but remnants of it remain in your body.
If this happens, the IUD can cause ongoing inflammation and infection that must be treated with medication and/or surgery.
Myths About IUDs
There are several myths about IUDs that make people reluctant to use them for birth control. One is the belief that they’re difficult to insert.
While it’s true that most women need to be at least a little bit dilated when they get an IUD, this isn’t the case for every woman. If you’ve had a baby before or if you’re at least three months postpartum, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Another concern is that an IUD will move around and cause problems with your fertility later in life. It’s true that an IUD can move to different positions within your uterus.
If this happens, your fertility may be partially compromised. If you’re worried about this happening, ask your doctor for help in choosing the right IUD for you.
Finally, there’s the assumption that IUDs can get stuck. While this used to be a greater concern, modern devices are smaller and have a smaller “hanging” part that makes this less likely to occur.
Your doctor may still recommend a manual check after the procedure to make sure it’s in place, however.
A Word From Verywell
If you’ve chosen to have an IUD for birth control, know that you’ve made a safe and effective choice. Whether you’re thinking about getting pregnant in the future or not, it’s a good idea to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to make sure everything is in order.
The most common side effect of an IUD is irregular and heavy periods. If this happens to you, don’t worry. Other than this, the device is fairly safe and effective. Just remember that no method of birth control is fail-safe and you’ll need to use a secondary form of contraception, as well. While it’s certainly possible to become pregnant while you have an IUD in place, it isn’t common occurrence for most women.
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Sources & references used in this article:
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Can intrauterine device removals for bleeding or pain be predicted at a one-month follow-up visit?: A multivariate analysis by J Stanback, D Grimes – Contraception, 1998 – Elsevier
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