Really Like to Have an IUD Removed

Does it hurt? Are there side effects? And what happens if it gets stuck? We’ve got answers to all your questions about taking out this increasingly popular birth-control method.

Sarah DiGiulio

June 08, 2017

If you’ve ever contemplated getting an IUD, then you probably talked to friends and also did some Google research to find out what the insertion process is like for this long-term contraceptive.

But you may not have given much thought to what happens when it’s time to take out this one-inch, T-shaped device—either because you plan to start having kids, it’s reached the end of its lifespan (which can be up to 12 years, depending on the type you have), or you just don’t want the thing in you anymore.

Here’s what happens in a nutshell. You’ll make an appointment with your ob-gyn, just as you did when you had the IUD put in. While you’re on your back on the exam table, your doctor (or sometimes a nurse) will insert a speculum. This lets her see the IUD strings, which should be in the cervix. Once she finds them, she’ll gently pull on them with a forceps until the IUD slides out of the cervical canal and then out of your vagina. Voila—you’re done.

Sometimes it takes a little longer. For example, if the strings aren’t clearly visible, your doctor might do an ultrasound to find them and make sure the IUD is in the proper place. In rare cases, the IUD could be stuck in the wall of the uterus, which calls for minimally invasive surgery to get it out.

But for the vast majority of women, the process is quick and easy, and no extra preparation or anesthesia is needed, says Leah Millheiser, MD, director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University. As for side effects, you might have a little spotting for a few hours or mild cramping, says Dr. Millheiser. Still, “you can go back to your regular routine immediately,” she adds.