An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a long-lasting type of birth control placed inside your uterus to prevent pregnancy. Many women choose IUDs because they are more than 99% effective when it comes to preventing pregnancy. This means that in the course of one year, less than one of every 100 women using this device will get pregnant. Therefore, it is one of the most effective types of birth control available.
Nevertheless, it is still possible to get pregnant while using an IUD, particularly if it is expired. Unfortunately, if you get pregnant with an IUD in place, it raises your risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Therefore, it is important to be vigilant and have your IUD replaced at the appropriate time.
Can an Expired IUD Slip Out of Place?
IUDs can slip out of place over time, and expired IUDs are particularly vulnerable to this problem. An improperly positioned IUD puts you at a higher risk of pregnancy.
You can check the positioning of your IUD yourself. First, wash your hands thoroughly and then sit or squat and insert your middle or index finger into your vagina. If your IUD is in the right place, you should feel the strings attached to the IUD but not any of the hard plastic casing of the device.
If you cannot feel the string, the string feels shorter or longer than it did before, or you can touch the hard plastic of the device coming out of your cervix, contact your doctor right away. They will use an ultrasound to determine the positioning of the device and will be able to insert a new one if it has slipped out of place. In the meantime, you may not be protected from pregnancy.
When Do IUDs Expire?
Your doctor usually informs you when you have the device inserted how long you can expect your IUD to provide protection from pregnancy. Copper IUDs can last for as long as 10 years, while hormonal IUDs can be effective for three to eight years depending on the brand and type in question.
It is important to remember that leaving an IUD in place after it has expired is never a good idea, even if you are not concerned about accidental pregnancy. Leaving it in for too long can complicate the removal process. It can also cause health risks, such as infections that may lead to sterility or potentially migrating into your abdomen.
Complications of Pregnancy With an Expired IUD
Here is a look at some of the major complications that may occur if you become pregnant with an expired IUD in place.
An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops outside of your uterus. One common cause of ectopic pregnancy is a fertilized egg growing in the fallopian tube. This is a serious condition that can lead to internal bleeding, infection, and possibly death if it is left untreated.
Unfortunately, getting pregnant while an IUD is in place puts you at a higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. However, it is worth noting that the overall risk of an ectopic pregnancy is low.
Another potential problem women may encounter if they get pregnant with an expired IUD is miscarriage. For women who get pregnant while they are using an IUD, the device itself can raise the risk of miscarriage. This occurs when a pregnancy ends spontaneously prior to its 20th week, and when the fetus has not developed sufficiently to survive outside of the uterus.
What Happens if You Get Pregnant With an Expired IUD?
If you discover that you are pregnant with an IUD in place, it is important to contact your doctor right away. In many cases they will recommend to have your IUD removed as soon as possible.
IUD Removal: What to Expect
When your IUD has expired, it is important to have a professional like a gynecologist remove it. This procedure can be carried out at any time. This is a relatively simple and quick process that does not usually cause any complications. Your doctor will pull gently on the string attached to the device with forceps. The arms of the IUD will then fold upward as it slides out of the uterus. You may experience some cramping or light bleeding during or after the process. If you are concerned about pain, you may want to take an over-the-counter painkiller before your appointment to reduce discomfort.
If your IUD is removed due to an infection, you may need to take antibiotics afterward. However, for routine removals without infections or complications, you can have a new IUD inserted immediately at the same office visit.
Reach Out to the Contraceptive Care Professionals at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness
Although IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, it is important to ensure you have them replaced when they are approaching expiration and regularly check to ensure the device is positioned properly. If you have any doubts about the integrity of your IUD or have questions about this method of birth control, schedule an appointment with the contraceptive care professionals Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness today.