Intrauterine Device (IUD) Removal

Intrauterine Device (IUD) Removal

An IUD is one of the most effective long-term birth control options. An IUD lasts for a specific number of years, and a doctor can remove it when it is no longer needed. It is a small t-shaped device that can be fitted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. An IUD is also called intrauterine contraception (IUC).

A properly fitted IUD can last between 3 – 10 years after which it has to be removed. If an IUD is left in the uterus after the specified number of years it requires, it increases the chances of pregnancy and contracting infections.

Types of IUD

There are two main types of IUDs

  • Copper IUD
  • Hormonal IUD

Copper-basedIUDs are plastic t-shaped devices with a copper coil on its stem and arms. It continuously releases copper into the uterus to cause an inflammatory reaction which can destroy the sperm.

  • Hormonal IUD (levonorgestrel LNG)

This device releases levonorgestrel which thickens the cervical mucus and prevents the sperm from fertilising the egg. Levonorgestrel also makes the uterine lining thin, partly preventing ovulation.

When should an IUD be removed?

An IUD is a form of contraception, but when it is no longer needed, a doctor can carry out an IUD removal for you. It is also effective for a limited time and must be removed when it has exceeded this time.

Copper-based IUDs can be effective for up to 12 years after their insertion while the hormonal-based IUDs have different lifespans depending on their brand. Some brands have a lifespan of 3 years and others 6 years.

A doctor can also recommend an IUD removal for the following reasons

  • Pelvic infection
  • Cervical or endometrial cancer
  • Menopause
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Endometritis- inflammation of the uterine lining
  • Severe side effects and discomfort

What to expect during an IUD removal

A qualified health professional will remove the IUD at a clinician’s office. You can also remove an IUD at a Gynae Clinic. The IUD removal can be done at any time, but it is easier to remove it during the menstrual cycle because the cervix will be softer.

The procedure is a simple, fast, and complications rarely arise from an IUD removal.

Steps to remove an IUD

The following steps are involved in an IUD removal

  • You will lie on an examination table on your back with your feet apart or in stirrups
  • The doctor will insert a speculum to your vagina to separate its walls and then locate the IUD
  • The doctor will use forceps to gently pull on the string that is attached to the device
  • As the doctor pulls the device, the arms of the IUD will fold upwards as it slowly moves out of the uterus.
  • When the IUD device is out, the doctor will remove the speculum.

After the procedure, there may be some light bleeding or cramping, and your doctor may prescribe a painkiller to reduce the discomfort and pain.

What happens after an IUD removal?

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic after your IUD removal if it was done because you had an infection, but if there was no infection or complication before the IUD removal, a new one would be inserted.

The insertion of a new IUD can be done on the same day as the removal of the old one. 

Risks and precautions

A few rare complications can arise while removing an IUD. They include

  • Incomplete removal

The IUD may not come out easily, and this can happen if the doctor cannot locate the strings of the IUD. The doctor may not locate the strings if it is displaced or was cut.

An ultrasound can easily locate the position of the strings. Asides forceps, other medical instruments like a cytobrush or an IUD brush can be used to remove an IUD.

  • Migration of the IUD

The device may migrate through the uterine wall, and if this happens, a hysteroscopic surgery may be needed to remove it.

An ultrasound can also be used as a guide to removing an IUD when it migrates. This method is less expensive and invasive as compared to hysteroscopic surgery.

  • Unplanned pregnancy

Complications can arise when removing an IUD, especially if an unplanned pregnancy occurs a few days before the removal. Alternative birth control options should be used before removing the IUD to prevent pregnancy.

When to have sex before and after the removal of an IUD

Having sex before and after removing an IUD is safe. However, you should have the following in mind

  • Female fertility will return to normal immediately after the removal
  • Sperm has the ability to survive in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days after intercourse

This means that if there are sexual intercourse days before or after removing an IUD, pregnancy can occur depending on the day of ovulation.

To prevent pregnancy, it is better to:

  • Abstain from having sex for at least 7 days before the removal
  • Use other birth control methods

If the alternative birth control is an oral contraceptive, it is better to use another form of protection for at least 7 days before the oral contraceptive becomes effective.

Other types of birth control

There are several types of contraception available besides IUD. They include;

Mechanical barriers

Mechanical barriers are used to prevent the sperm from physically fertilising the egg. This method can be combined with spermicide to chemically kill the sperm. Mechanical barriers include;

  • The male and female condom
  • Cervical caps
  • Lea contraceptives
  • Diaphragms
  • Contraceptive sponges

Hormonal birth control

Hormonal birth controls release synthetic hormones like oestrogen and progestin into the female reproductive system to prevent pregnancy. They include;

  • Birth control pills, patches or injections
  • Vaginal rings
  • Implants

Sterilisation

Sterilisation is a permanent type of birth control. In the case of women, a surgeon will cut or seal off the fallopian tubes while in men, the surgeon will perform a vasectomy by cutting or blocking the tubes through which the sperm is transported.

Sometimes, it is possible to reverse a sterilisation process, but there will be no guarantee that the reproductive system will function properly.

You can remove an IUD at a Gynae Clinic. Simply contact Gynae Clinic today on 020 71831049 to book an appointment.

Frequently asked question

  • What will happen if I do not remove my IUD in time?

If your IUD remains in your uterus past its expiration date, it can cause an infection, infertility or both. An expired IUD will not be effective in preventing pregnancy.

Gynae Clinic is a website designed to inform our patients about gynaecological services delivered at Medical Express Clinic at 117a Harley Street. In the event that patients are seen by a clinician, this will be arranged at Medical Express Clinic which is registered in the United Kingdom with the Care Quality Commission to provide healthcare services.