IUD removal: What to expect

Having your IUD (coil) removed is a simple procedure that takes a few minutes. It's a lot quicker than getting a coil fitted, and most people find they don't need any pain relief or time off afterwards.

The removal works in exactly the same way for hormonal and non-hormonal coils. And you can get it done at most sexual health clinics.

The clinic will usually want to talk to you over the phone before your appointment, to let you know what to expect. They might want to know if you found the coil fitting process easy. And may ask you if you can feel the threads of your IUD. They might also ask you about any problems or issues you've had with the coil.

Staying protected

Remember, the minute your coil is taken out it can no longer protect you from getting pregnant. If you want to avoid getting pregnant when your coil is taken out, you'll need to stop having sex or use condoms for the 7 days before your removal appointment. This is because sperm can survive in the body for up to 7 days.

Before your removal appointment, think about what type of contraception you want to use afterwards. You can talk to the clinic about other methods or check out our information about contraception to help you decide.

If you're happy to keep using the IUD, but you need it replaced, the clinician should be able to fit the new coil in the same appointment. Let the clinic know you want a coil replacement when you book your appointment. This procedure can take a bit more time and needs to be done by a specially trained clinician.

What happens?

Your clinician will use a speculum and some forceps to take out your coil. The speculum will be inserted into your vagina and the clinician will find your cervix. This is where the strings from your IUD will be visible. If the clinician can see the strings, they'll use the forceps to take hold of the strings. They might ask you to cough at this point. Then they'll quickly pull out the IUD.

Because the coil is T-shaped and made of a flexible material, it folds up as it's pulled. This means it quickly and easily comes out of the cervix. It's quick and painless. Though you might feel some discomfort and cramping afterwards. Some people get some spotting for a few days too. So it's a good idea to bring a sanitary pad to your appointment. You can take over-the-counter pain relief like paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with any cramping.

What if they cannot remove the coil?

Sometimes the threads from your IUD will have folded up and be sitting inside the cervix. If this has happened, your clinician will not be able to see them and remove the coil.

This is nothing to worry about, it's a normal thing to happen. But it will mean you'll need another appointment to get your IUD removed.

In this second appointment, the clinician will use an ultrasound scan to see where your IUD is sitting and help them remove it. This is called an ultrasound guided removal.

Sometimes, the clinician cannot remove your IUD because the threads snap when they are pulled. If this happens, do not worry. You'll be able to get your coil removed using an ultrasound scan to guide the process.
Never try to remove a coil yourself, it needs to be done by a trained professional.

Contact your GP or clinic if you experience any of these after the removal:

  • heavy bleeding

  • severe pain or cramps

  • fever or chills

  • bad-smelling vaginal discharge

Written by Helen Burkitt. Senior Sexual Health and Contraception Nurse
Last updated at: 05 February 2024
Published on: 26 July 2023