You can use an intrauterine device (IUD) to prevent pregnancy for 3 to 12 years, depending on the type.1 Talk to your doctor about how long you can use it.
It's always your choice to have the IUD removed at any time for any reason. You may want it removed because you want to become pregnant or to use a different birth control method. Otherwise, your doctor will remove your IUD at the end of its effectiveness or if you have a medical problem.
It takes just a few minutes for your doctor to remove the IUD. You can ask to have a new IUD placed at the same time.
How it is done
Your doctor will remove the IUD during an office visit. You may be asked to take a pain medicine such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) 30 to 60 minutes before your appointment. This can help with cramps during the IUD removal.
First, you'll have some privacy to get ready. You'll be asked to take off your clothes below the waist. But you will get a covering to drape around your waist. When it's time for the procedure, your doctor will ask you to lie back on the table. It has footrests that help keep your legs comfortable.
To remove the IUD, your doctor will gently put a tool called a speculum into your vagina. It opens the vagina a little bit. You may feel some pressure. Your doctor will look for the IUD strings that usually come through the cervix. The doctor will use a tool to hold the strings and gently pull on them. The arms of the IUD fold up as it slides through the cervix and out the vagina. You might feel some cramping. Then the speculum is removed.
If your doctor doesn't see the strings, other tools may be used. Or an ultrasound may be done to help with IUD removal.
You can go back to your normal activities right after the IUD is removed, unless your doctor says otherwise. You might have some cramping and light bleeding (spotting) right after removal.
After the IUD is taken out, you can become pregnant. If you want to become pregnant, you can start trying to have a baby as soon as you like. If you don't want to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about using other forms of birth control. Make sure to start your new method right away.
You can ask to have your IUD removed at any time for any reason. Otherwise, your doctor will remove your IUD if you have a medical problem or when it's time to remove or replace it. It also needs to be removed if you get pregnant while you have an IUD.
- Ti AJ, et al. (2020). Effectiveness and safety of extending intrauterine device duration: A systematic review. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 223(1): 24–35.e3. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2020.01.014. Accessed August 29, 2022.
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
JoLynn Montgomery PA - Family Medicine
Kara L. Cadwallader MD - Family Medicine