Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are only getting more and more popular, but what about when you want to get pregnant? How quickly can one get pregnant after having an IUD removed? Do you have to wait a certain number of months after removal to plan your pregnancy? These are some common misconceptions about this popular conception tool. Let’s talk about getting pregnant after having had an IUD.
How does the iud work?
It’s important to start with the basics. The IUD is a super intelligent form of contraception because it is low-dose and very effective (99.95%). There are multiple kinds of IUDs and it varies upon the country you live in. For the United States, there are commonly 2 kinds of IUDS. Progesterone IUDS and Copper IUDs.
In the US, the copper IUD’s trademark name is the ParaGard®. The trademark names for progesterone IUDs are Mirena®, Liletta®, Skyla®, and Kyleena®. Other’s exist globally as well.
Each IUD works a little differently. The copper IUD emits ions which create an inconducive environment for sperm function and a thickened cervical mucus. It is non-hormonal and yet, does all this!
The progesterone IUDs do emit progesterone within the uterus which makes the endometrial lining thin, it thickens the cervical mucus so sperm cannot enter and it can inhibit ovulation in about 15% of women.¹ So with that said, most women are continuing to ovulate while on progesterone IUDS with or without their knowledge.
Both types of IUDS are not abortive per all scientific research.
so, if ovulation is occurring, when can pregnancy happen?
In short answer, you can get pregnant immediately after the IUD is removed if you are ovulating at that time. The IUD’s effect is only while it is present within the uterus. In fact, you could potentially become pregnant from sperm that is residing in your body for up to 5 days before the IUD is even removed!
It’s not as easy to detect ovulation with an IUD, however, ovulation predictor strips might continue to work with an IUD.
Is there a need to wait after removal?
No, there is no medical reason to wait to try to conceive, unless your medical provider recommends otherwise. Once the IUD is removed you are potentially fertile. You can try to conceive from that day forth. It is most beneficial to know if you are ovulating if you are trying to time conception. I teach a 3-step process in learning cervical mucus and your body’s natural signs of ovulation in a clear format in my Get Pregnant Guide.
Does getting the IUD removed hurt?
Firstly, getting the IUD put in is painful (explicit words are usually said). However, the removal process is quick, usually simple and relatively painless. You may feel a slight pulling sensation and maybe a little cramping but it is hardly on the same level of pain as insertion. Most my patients thank me for removing it so painlessly, but it really just isn’t a hard process to removal one.
Long-Term Side Effects
There are very few long-term risks involved with having an IUD. But I would be remiss if I didn’t even mention the slight chance of the few risks. During removal, there is a potential that the IUD could break and leave a piece within your body. That piece can be enough to inhibit pregnancy by continuing to emit its contraceptive benefits. Always ask your provider to look at your old IUD. Most are happy to show you the device that protected you for so long.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can do harm to the reproductive system. The irritation and inflammatory nature of chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, which leads to infertility. Therefore, having an IUD while simultaneously having an STI can lead to a worst-case scenario possibility. The IUD’s design with strings in the vagina could potentiate the infection within the uterine cavity. It is important to routinely be checked and treated for STIs.
An old IUD, the Dalcon Shield®, once had the possibility of damaging the uterus by increasing pelvic inflammatory disease by 6x more likely. All IUDs increase the chance of pelvic inflammatory disease, but that is in relation to STIs (please see the above).
So, what are the advantages of pregnancy after having had an IUD?
You can plan for pregnancy if you have to schedule an IUD removal at your local provider’s office. The greatest benefit is being able to take at least 3 months of prenatal vitamins before conception. Other benefits include becoming the healthiest version of yourself with diet and exercise. Additionally, you can start to test your luteinizing hormone to see if you are ovulating even while having an IUD in place. By getting to know your body’s cycles, you can most accurately plan to optimize sex for pregnancy.
¹Stanford, J. B., & Mikolajczyk, R. T. (2002). Mechanisms of action of intrauterine devices: update and estimation of postfertilization effects. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 187(6), 1699-1708.
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