IUD Removal: What to Expect

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on April 01, 2024
3 min read

An intrauterine device (IUD) should prevent pregnancy for 3 to 10 years, depending on the type you have. Once it expires, your doctor will need to take it out. You can have the IUD removed before the expiration date if you want to get pregnant.

IUD removal is a quick procedure that's done in your doctor's office or a clinic. (Don’t try to remove it yourself.) Here’s what you can expect.

Get your IUD removed if:

  • It has expired. Your doctor should be able to tell you how long yours is supposed to last.
  • You want to get pregnant.
  • You've had side effects like heavy bleeding, severe headaches, or pain.
  • Your IUD has moved out of your uterus or has broken.
  • You got pregnant while the IUD was in place.

In some cases, your doctor may also recommend removing your IUD when you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD). If you have an STD, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of IUD removal. 

You don't need to do anything to prepare. Removing an IUD is usually less painful than putting it in.

Your doctor might suggest that you avoid sex for 7 days before your appointment. This is to prevent you from getting pregnant right after the IUD is removed if you don't replace it with another one.

The procedure is the same for any form of IUD -- copper (ParaGard) or hormonal (Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla).

You will lie on a table with your knees bent and your legs apart. Your doctor will insert a special tool called a speculum into your vagina to widen the opening.

Threads from your IUD should hang out of your cervix into your vagina. Using a special grasping tool, your doctor will gently pull on the strings and pull out the device. An IUD is T-shaped, and its arms will fold up as it slides out.

If the doctor can't see or reach the threads, they can use a special hook or other tool to pull them into view.

There's a slight chance that your IUD won't come out easily. It may get stuck in the wall of your uterus. If this happens, your doctor may need to widen your cervix with medicine and use forceps to pull it out. They may use a thin, lighted scope to look inside your vagina and uterus to remove the IUD. You'll get medicine to prevent pain during this procedure.

IUD removal takes only a few minutes. It may take longer if your doctor can't easily pull it out.

You'll have some mild cramps as your doctor removes the IUD.

Yes. Your doctor can insert a new one right after removing the one that has expired.

You may have cramps and spotting or light bleeding for a few days or weeks after your IUD comes out. An over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help you feel better.

Yes. You will be able to get pregnant right after the IUD comes out. Your periods should go back into their normal cycle.

If you don't want to get pregnant, ask your doctor to insert a new IUD or switch to a different birth control method.

Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms after your IUD is removed:

  • Severe pain or cramps
  • Fever or chills
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Bad-smelling discharge from your vagina

It's not a good idea to try to remove an IUD yourself. If you try to pull it out by its string, there's a good chance you'll move it out of place but be unable to get it out. This can be painful and leaves you unprotected against pregnancy. You'll need to see a health care provider to finish the job.