Why You Should Think Twice Before Trying To Remove Your Own IUD

An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a type of birth control that is inserted into the uterus. The small plastic device is usually T-shaped and contains hormones or copper to prevent pregnancy. IUDs will typically prevent pregnancy for anywhere from three to 10 years (via Medical News Today). The device will expire after a certain number of years, and when that point is reached it becomes necessary to remove the IUD. Some women have successfully removed theirs at home, but should you try to do it without the help of a doctor?

Most experts say no. "I would discourage self-removal of IUDs for safety reasons," OB-GYN Sherry Ross, M.D., told Self. "It's a little Cirque de Soleil if you're doing it yourself." If you aren't sure what you're doing, you can accidentally scratch yourself while trying to remove your IUD. This can lead to pain and possible infection. IUDs also need to be pulled firmly downward, which can be difficult to do on your own. Finally, if your IUD has shifted or isn't perfectly aligned how it's supposed to be, you'll have an even harder time taking it out alone. Some doctors need to perform an ultrasound to correctly remove an IUD, which is technology you won't be equipped with at home.

With a doctor's blessing, you may be able to remove your IUD alone

That all being said, some doctors will be okay with you attempting to take out your IUD at home. It's best to give your doctor a call beforehand and ask for their opinion. If you had negative symptoms during and after the IUD insertion, for example, they will probably suggest you make an appointment with them instead.

However, healthy patients will usually not experience harm by trying to once to remove their IUD before heading to the doctor. "If you can grab the string, you can remove it yourself," Diane Greene Foster, PhD, told WebMD. "But, if you don't get traction, you can't do it. If you can't feel the string, your chance of removing it yourself is zero."

If you can't remove your IUD on the first try, don't force it. Schedule an appointment with your doctor for a later date. If you're having trouble removing the device, you're likely to hurt yourself. The IUD can sometimes get dislodged in your uterus and cause painful cramping (via Cleveland Clinic). It also won't do its job anymore, so a dislodged IUD would need to be removed as soon as possible.