Why IUD Removal at Home Is a Bad Idea

There are a few risks to removing an IUD at home, according to experts.

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a popular method of birth control. This plastic, T-shaped device is inserted into the uterus by a healthcare profressional to prevent pregnancy, according to Nemours Children's Health. This is an effective form of birth control—roughly 1 out of every 100 couples will accidentally becoming pregnant when using an IUD.

There are two different types of IUDs, based on what they are coated with. A copper-coated IUD prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg and can last up to 10 years. While a progestin-coated IUD also prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg but it also thickens the cervical mucus and thins the cervical lining and lasts 3–6 years, according to Nemours Children's Health.

IUDs can be removed at any time, and there are quite a few reasons you may have yours removed. IUDs should be removed by a healthcare professional and should not be removed at home. Find out why you would get an IUD removed and why the procedure should be done by a healthcare professional.

Why You Would Get Your IUD Removed

Even though IUDs can last for years, there may come a time when you need to have it removed. For instance, if you are interested in pursuing pregnancy, then you have to take out your birth control method in order to do that, according to Planned Parenthood. And if you become pregnant while using an IUD, you will also need to have the IUD removed, according to MedlinePlus.

It Needs To Be Replaced

IUDs only last for so long and eventually you will need to have it replaced, according to Planned Parenthood. Different IUDs last for different lengths of time, depending on the brand. For instance, if you have the Paragard IUD, you should replace it every 12 years. But the Skyla IUD should be replaced every 3 years. A healthcare professional will know what brand you have and when it will need to be replaced.

There Are Signs of a Problem

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a problem with your IUD and you should contact a healthcare professional to have your IUD removed.

  • Severe pelvic pain
  • Unexplained fever
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • If you feel the IUD in the vagina
  • Positive pregnancy test
  • Signs of pregnancy (ie. nausea, breast tenderness)

Why You Shouldn't Remove Your IUD at Home

If you have an IUD, it's understandable to have some questions about whether it's safe to try to remove it yourself at home. Perhaps you don't want to wait for an appointment, or you don't have health insurance and don't want to pay out-of-pocket. But this is a really bad idea for more reasons than one.

Pieces Can Break Off

Sometimes an IUD can slip out of place. This may be due to pregnancy, according to MedlinePlus. If your IUD has slipped out of your uterus, do not try to fix it on your own. You should contact a healthcare professional immediatly.

"Taking out your own IUD is not safe," said Jessica Shepherd, MD, an ob-gyn in Texas and founder of Sanctum Med Wellness. Dr. Shepherd said there are a few possible issues that could crop up. During any IUD removal, there are risks for complications. Sometimes, the IUD can become stuck in the uterus or pieces of it can break off, according to Planned Parenthood. And if this happens, you will want help from a healthcare professional.

"It might not come out intact, and some portion can be left inside the uterus," Dr. Shepherd said. "The IUD will hopefully come out completely intact, but there are cases where it can break off and you still have pieces in there," said Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. "It's rare, but I've seen it."

Risk of Bleeding

If you happen to tear something in the process, you could end up with bleeding that needs immediate attention, Dr. Shepherd said. "It can be painful if not done correctly." One more thing to consider, according to Dr. Greves: "You could break the string and your IUD could get lodged in your cervix. That hurts so bad."

How To Get Your IUD Removed Safely

Ultimately, Dr. Shepherd said, IUD removal "is for a healthcare provider to do." Dr. Greves agreed: "It's really best to see a doctor for this." If any complications arise (such as if the IUD getting stuck in the uterus) then a healthcare professional will know what to do, according to Planned Parenthood.

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of IUD removal because of the Affordable Care Act, according to Planned Parenthood. And, if you don't have health insurance and are concerned about the cost, call your local Planned Parenthood to see what options are available to you. You may be eligible for Medicaid or income based financing.

You can get your IUD removed at the same place where you had it inserted, according to Planned Parenthood. This may be a family planning clinic, gynecologist office, Planned Parenthood, or any other health center.

A Quick Review

IUDs are effective at preventing pregnancy and are a safe method of birth control. But, they don't last forever. Eventually your IUD will be removed. This may be because it's time for it to be replaced, you're experiencing complications, or you are pregnant or pursuing pregnancy. Whatever the reason, do not try to remove your IUD at home since there can be complications. If you would like to remove your IUD, contact your healthcare professional to have the procedure done safely.

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