What to do when your IUD doesn’t love you back.

A quick disclaimer – Aw hell, you read the title, didn’t you? If you don’t want to read about lady probs, then stop right here and go read something else. Okay? Cool.

Also, I’m not a doctor. Talk to yours if you’ve got any concerns with an IUD or any other birth control related things.


Everything was going so well after I had my little T shaped device put in place this past September. Before this, I had relied on the pill to keep me protected from an unplanned pregnancy. The period control was a nice perk, too. The Intrauterine Device (IUD) was revolutionary to me. No more having to set 15 alarms and 20 other reminders on my phone to take my pill. For the hormonal dosages of the pill to be over 99% effective, it needed to be taken every day, at the same time of day. That was going to be hard for me with my newly frazzled mom brain, and I was not about to risk having another unplanned pregnancy while I was underemployed.

So before I got booted off of my health insurance from my previous employer, I decided to rush to my OBGYN’s office to get the copper IUD, called ParaGard. With nursing and dealing with some crazy postpartum depression, I didn’t think hormonal options were the best choices for me at the time.

My doctor informed me that I had to sign some paperwork before the procedure could begin, basically saying I wouldn’t sue anyone and that I was aware of the risks involved. After that was done, the rest went smoothly. I received a card with the date of insertion, date of removal and the doctor’s name to keep in my wallet. It was set, and I could forget about it.

And another cool thing? This little thing could give me up to 12 years of protection! Boom. I was sold.

slate_getting_an_iud_can_be_insanely_painful_is_there_a_better_way
There were different versions of the ParaGard. I got something that looked like this one. (Photo from flocu/Shutterstock)

After this, the doc told me to come back in for a follow-up appointment to check and see if the IUD stayed in place. **If you get an IUD, PLEASE DON’T DO WHAT I DID and not do the follow-up.** I wasn’t having any problems, and my insurance had run out, and I was stupid and didn’t go because I didn’t want to run up any more medical bills.

Fast forward to March of 2018 – and everything was still going great! That is until I hopped in the shower recently. It was that special time of the month, but something felt off for the past week.

As I was washing up, I started cramping up like crazy. Mild cramps, but they came out of nowhere. To my horror, I reached down and felt the IUD falling out of me. I could feel the plastic part, and that was obviously, very very bad.

I panicked.

I had no idea what I was supposed to do, so I had Dan immediately call the doctor while I was on Google self-diagnosing myself (which only increased my anxiety and did nothing helpful). As I tried to sit down on the couch, I started getting pain that felt like someone was stabbing me, so of course, I became concerned. The doctor’s office told me to go straight to the ER to have it pulled, so that’s where we went.

We went to Flower Hospital in Sylvania, Ohio. It is probably one of the best hospitals in the area. My ER wait was maybe 5 minutes. They got me in a room right away. We had to be creative to get a good look inside to see what was going on. They literally couldn’t find it. They propped me up on a bedpan and tilted me onto it, which caused an excruciating amount of pain. They still didn’t see anything. An x-ray was done, along with a pregnancy test, a urinary tract infection test, and some other blood tests. Everything came back negative, but they finally managed to see the device in the x-ray, which indicated that it was indeed, on its way out.

Once we saw this, I thought – “Great! Now they can get this thing out and we can be done with this.” Except the guy comes back in the room shrugging saying “We can’t find the string, so we can’t get it out.”

I was about to throw the bedpan at him. What did he mean by this?? They weren’t just gonna send me home, were they?

Yup, they sent me home. Gave me a Motrin, prescribed me some Miralax (what?) and Dan pushed me out of the hospital in a wheelchair. I was still in pain, nothing was solved, and I still had to shell out $400+ for the co-pay towards the visit. Apparently, they “didn’t have the proper training” to remove an IUD at the ER. ‘Murica.

IUD-fell-out-displaced-misplaced-paragard-copper
At least it wasn’t as painful as childbirth.

I managed to suck it up and endure the pain through the night and during an entire 45-minute examination the next day for another job I had applied for. Then I went straight back to my OBGYN.

When I arrived, they stuck an ultrasound wand up there and wiggled it around for what seemed like an eternity, because it was just so freaking painful. And they still couldn’t find it. I was sobbing, getting close to the end of my rope.

Then as the tech was removing the wand, lo and behold – the ParaGard had been completely expelled out of my uterus and into my vagina. It was stuck up there, but I was just glad that it hadn’t migrated outside of the uterus. It was time to finish this, once and for all.

The doctor came in and gave a quick tug, and that was that. Except in my case, I doubled over in pain, crying from the resulting cramps that came from the sudden removal of the device. Removal is typically quick and relatively painless. I had to get Dan to come to the office to drive me home. Luckily, the pain went away later that evening, but I still felt off for a while after the removal.

I’m happy to report that I’m A-OK now but sad that the IUD didn’t end up working out for me. I was one of those special cases where my body just decided it didn’t want it anymore and forced it out. I mean, it is a foreign copper object in your body, after all. My body was just doing its job, unfortunately.

So, lessons learned from this entire experience:

1. Stay calm and call your doctor immediately if something seems wrong.

Really, it’s better to be safe than sorry on this one. It sucks that I had to fork over a good chunk of cash to the ER for something they couldn’t fix. Next time, I will insist that they look closer and remove it (which according to my OBGYN they should have been able to do in the first place) so I can at least get my money’s worth and not end up paying $400 bucks for some damn Motrin.

If you are in excruciating pain no matter what, GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.

2. Check yo self before you wreck yo self.

I just happened to be in the 2 – 10% of women who have an expulsion during the first year after insertion. Lucky me.

Be sure to perform self-checks with an IUD regularly by checking the string length (you can see how to do that in more detail here) and follow up with your healthcare provider every once in a while to make sure that everything is where it should be. It’s worth it to avoid some scary situations like a runaway IUD or an accidental/ectopic pregnancy. If you’re still up for action with a displaced IUD, make sure to use backup birth control methods. Stay vigilant!

3. Talk to your doc about the next steps.

If an expulsion happened once, it can happen again.

This kind of thing may be more likely if:

  • You’re 25 or younger.
  • You had an IUD placed immediately after having a kid.
  • You’ve never been pregnant.
  • You have heavy periods and/or cramping.

If I’m brave enough to try this again, I’ll definitely ask my doc to use an ultrasound machine to make sure a second IUD gets placed correctly. Normally, the insertion is a blind procedure.

Fortunately, there are other methods of birth control to choose from if the IUD isn’t the one for me. Until then, I think I’m just going to leave my body alone to heal for a little while and wait until I can hopefully get some better health insurance.

I wouldn’t mind if PJ ended up having a sibling someday. But today is definitely not going to be that day.

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