What to Expect During Your IUD Removal

If you have an intrauterine device (IUD), you will eventually have to get it removed. If you're nervous about having it taken out, know that an IUD removal is often easier, less painful, and quicker than an IUD insertion.

This article will cover why you might want or need to have your IUD removed. It will also go over what happens during the procedure, including the potential complications you should know about.

What to expect during an iud removal.

Verywell / Emily Roberts

Reasons for IUD Removal

One of the main reasons that an IUD needs to be removed is that it's reached its "expiration date."

An IUD will not be effective after a set amount of time has passed. If you want to continue using it for birth control, you'll need to have it replaced.

Each brand of IUD lasts a certain number of years. If you don't follow the schedule, your birth control may not be as effective.

If you're using an IUD for birth control, it's important to get it replaced before it stops providing you with protection. Getting pregnant while you have an IUD can have serious complications like infection and pregnancy loss.

How long an IUD lasts before it needs to be replaced depends on which one you have:

Other Reasons for IUD Removal

There are several reasons you may want or need to have your IUD taken out, including:

Preparing for IUD Removal

An IUD can be removed at any time. However, having your IUD out might be easier when you're on your period because the bottom part of the uterus that opens to the vagina (the cervix) moves lower and widens a bit.

Before making an appointment to have your IUD taken out, you'll need to think about when you last had intercourse.

Since sperm can live in the body for up to five days, you may need to wait to have your IUD taken out if you do not want to get pregnant right away.

To avoid pregnancy, do not have sex the week before your IUD removal day.

If you continue to have sex up to your appointment, make sure that you use a condom or other non-hormonal birth control method.

IUD Replacement

You can have a new IUD put in right after your old IUD is removed. Both procedures can be done at the same visit, as long as there are no complications.

What Happens During IUD Removal

Just like during your IUD insertion, your provider will start the IUD removal process by figuring out the position of your uterus.

  1. A tool called a speculum is placed in your vagina to open it up and help your provider see.
  2. Next, your provider will look for your IUD strings at the opening of your cervix.
  3. Then, they will use an IUD hook or forceps to grab the IUD strings and slowly pull on them.
  4. As the IUD slides through your cervix and out of your vagina, the flexible arms of the IUD will fold up.

From start to finish, removing an IUD only takes a few minutes.

Will Having My IUD Removed Hurt?

When you had your IUD put in, it may have hurt a lot. You may have had cramps during and after the procedure.

Having your IUD taken out usually doesn't hurt as much. You may have some discomfort as the IUD is being removed and a little cramping after.

Possible Complications of IUD Removal

An IUD removal usually goes well and there are no problems. However, it is possible for complications to happen.

Missing IUD Strings

If your IUD strings are missing, they probably moved up into the cervical canal or uterus.

Your provider may need to use an imaging scan to see your uterus better (ultrasound). This tool can help them find the strings.

If the strings have slipped up into your cervical canal or uterus, your provider will try to gently pull them out with forceps or an IUD hook.

Once the strings have been pulled into your vaginal canal, the IUD removal can continue.

If your IUD strings cannot be located but your provider has confirmed that the IUD is still in the right place, they may try to take it out using forceps or an IUD hook.

IUD Stuck in Uterine Wall

Rarely, an IUD is hard to remove because it's stuck in the uterine wall (perforation). Your provider can use ultrasound or X-ray to see if this has happened.

If the IUD is stuck in your uterus and your provider is not able to pull it out with forceps, you may need to have it removed surgically.

Summary

You may want or need to have your IUD taken out for several reasons. For example, it might be time to replace the IUD or you may want to get pregnant.

Your IUD can be removed at any time, but your provider might suggest doing it when you have your period because your cervix widens during this time.

During the IUD removal procedure, your provider will use tools to grasp the strings of the IUD and gently pull it out. If you want to have another IUD, it can be put in as soon as the old one is removed.

Sometimes, an IUD removal can have complications. For example, your provider may not be able to find the strings or the IUD might be stuck in the wall of your uterus.

It's rare, but if your provider can't get the IUD out, you might need to have it removed surgically.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you remove your own IUD?

    An IUD should be removed by a health care provider because there is a chance of complications, such as a perforation of the uterine wall.

  • Is it normal to have blood clots after having an IUD removed?

    Spotting or light bleeding is common after having an IUD taken out. The spotting can last for a few hours or days after the IUD is removed.

    Passing blood clots after getting your IUD out is not normal. If you pass blood clots or are having heavier than normal bleeding, call your provider.

  • When do periods go back to normal after IUD removal?

    It can take up to three months for your period to return to normal after having an IUD removed. If it has been longer than three months and your period has not returned, take a pregnancy test and call your provider.

  • How long will it take to get pregnant after IUD removal?

    Once the IUD is removed, you are no longer protected against pregnancy and could get pregnant right away. How long it takes varies, but about 85% of people conceive within a year of having their IUD removed. 

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Intrauterine contraception.

  2. Skyla. About Skyla.

  3. Kyleena. A closer look at Kyleena.

  4. Liletta. Tell me about Liletta.

  5. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. Mirena prescribing information.

  6. Whaley NS, Burke AE. Intrauterine contraception. Womens Health (Lond). 2015;11(6):759-67. doi:10.2217/whe.15.77

  7. University of California San Fransisco. Contraception: How It Works.

  8. Michigan Medicine. IUD removal.

  9. Planned Parenthood. How does IUD removal work?.

  10. Nationwide Children’s. Intrauterine device (IUD) removal.

  11. Girum T, Wasie A. Return of fertility after discontinuation of contraception: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Contracept Reprod Med. 2018;3:9. doi:10.1186/s40834-018-0064-y

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.