Health Library

Intrauterine Device Removal


An intrauterine device (IUD) is a type of temporary birth control for women. It may be removed if a woman wants to become pregnant or the device is set to expire. There are 2 types of IUDs:

  • Hormone-releasing—effective for 3 years or 5 years depending on the brand.
  • Copper—effective for 10 years.
Intrauterine Device
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Reasons for Procedure

Reasons to remove an IUD may include:

  • IUD has expired or needs to be replaced
  • Planning pregnancy
  • Side effects, such as abnormal bleeding or pain
  • Heavy and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding
  • IUD fails and you become pregnant
  • Different birth control method is desired
  • Periods have ended due to menopause
  • Treatment requires removal of IUD

Possible Complications

Complications are rare. No procedure is completely free of risk. Cramping and bleeding may occur during the removal. This is normal. Fainting or near-fainting may also happen.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The doctor will review other birth control methods if pregnancy is not a goal. Some methods may need to be started before the IUD is removed.

An IUD can be removed at any time. It may be easier during period. Plan with the doctor's office.


Anesthesia is often not needed. Over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen can help manage discomfort after.

Description of the Procedure

You will lie on an exam table with feet in foot holders. A speculum will be inserted into the vagina. It will make space so the doctor can work. The cervix and vagina will be cleaned.

A tool will be passed into the vagina. It will grasp the strings that are attached to the IUD. You will be asked to take slow deep breaths. The strings will be gently pulled. This should fold the arms of the IUD and let it slip out of the body. If the IUD will be replaced, the new IUD will be inserted at this time.

Some IUDs may be more difficult to remove. A hysteroscopy may be needed if the IUD has become stuck. A scope will be passed through the vagina into the uterus. A camera will show what may be holding the IUD. If needed, tools will help to free it.

How Long Will It Take?

The procedure only takes a few minutes.

Will It Hurt?

You may have cramping and bleeding while the IUD is being removed. This is normal.

Post-procedure Care

Pregnancy will be possible after the IUD is removed. Use other birth control methods if you do not want a pregnancy.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if recovery is not going as expected or if any of the following happen:

  • Severe cramps, pain, or tenderness in your abdomen
  • Fever or chills
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding or unusual discharge from your vagina


Office on Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services

Planned Parenthood

Canadian Resources

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

Women's Health Matters


Intrauterine device. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated October 23, 2019. Accessed October 30, 2019.

Intrauterine device. US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: Updated May 2, 2019. Accessed October 30, 2019.

IUD. Planned Parenthood website. Available at: Accessed October 30, 2019.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 110: Noncontraceptive uses of hormonal vontraception. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;115(1):206-218. Reaffirmed August 2012.