"Fun" fact about IUD insertion: It's a wildly different experience for every single person who goes through it. Some women say insertion is the worst, most concentrated pain they've ever felt, and others say it feels like nothing more than a routine Pap smear. Until you're the one with her feet in the stirrups, it's impossible to know how, exactly, your cervix will react.
So then it follows suit that IUD removal is an even more diverse experience. While there's truly only one way to put an IUD in, an IUD can be removed by a doctor or expelled by accident while you're going about your day (though the latter is rare). Eight women with very different IUD removal stories revealed how it feels to have an IUD removed or expelled.
1. "I had my Mirena IUD in for all five years it is allowed to stay in. I decided to take it out because my time was up and I wanted to get off hormones completely. I remembered the pain of getting it put in so I was nervous while sitting in the stirrups. Unfortunately for me, my doctor was kind of a jerk. She basically walked in said, 'OK, I'm gonna take it out,' and yanked. I was not ready. It felt like a really bad cramp and a Pap smear all at once. I was shocked and really frustrated. At home that night, I had the worst cramps of my life. I would almost compare them to the Braxton Hicks contractions I feel now that I'm pregnant. The cramps persisted with less frequency over the next week. The week after that, I felt 100 percent better. Next time, I'm gonna take a nice big pain pill before I go. Lesson learned." - Courtney, 24
2. "I took painkillers an hour before, as I had done for the fitting, and the process was very similar to begin with. There was mild discomfort as they put the speculum in, but beyond that, it was absolutely fine! It must have been over with in about 30 seconds. There was cramping as it was pulled out, but nothing like the agony I experienced having it fitted, and it was over with so much quicker. The nurse then showed me the copper IUD, which was gross but fascinating. It looked the same as when it was put in, but it was covered in menstrual matter. I left straight away. I honestly don't think I was in the building longer than five to 10 minutes. I got a period basically immediately and it continued on and off for a few weeks, and it was very heavy. After that, everything went back to normal." - Millie, 20
3. "I had the Mirena, and it felt like someone was pinching every inch of my reproductive system at the same time while it was being inserted. After it was in, I had waves of cramps and felt so exhausted for an entire day. I kept it for less than six months because my libido was so low. I wanted nothing to do with sex, which broke my heart because I fucking love sex. Removal felt almost as bad as having it inserted, but knowing my libido would go back up made the pain bearable." - Alyssa, 24
4. "I had my IUD for five years and it was time to replace it. I was one of those people who had a pretty mild insertion process, and I feel lucky that removal was the same. Honestly it just felt like a prolonged Pap smear. It's not something you'd classify as enjoyable by any stretch, but my doctor talked me through it before she removed it, so I felt prepared. It was just an annoying pinch, really. I went home and treated myself to a couple glasses of wine after." - Sarah, 29
5. "I got my Mirena IUD removed about five months after inserting it because I didn't stop bleeding and I could also feel it during sex. The removal was slightly uncomfortable but way less painful than insertion, which also lasted longer. The removal was super quick in comparison. I know lots of women absolutely love and swear by it, but it felt like my body didn't want the IUD." - Maria, 25
6. "I was using my DivaCup a few days after getting my Mirena IUD put in because the doctor at the clinic assured me if I was careful it should be OK (and I have friends who do this successfully every month!). I was still new to [the] sensations of having an IUD, so when I took out the Diva Cup and felt a painless shift up in there, I didn't assume the worst. It wasn't until I [reached in to check] for the strings and felt the plastic T-shape that I knew I had actually pulled out the IUD. I called the clinic and they told me I could sleep with it in this half-in/half-out state and come in first thing in the morning to have it removed and a new one put in. The doctor got forceps and just plucked it right out. Kind of like having your ears pierced where there's an intense sensation for a few moments and then it's over. Much less dramatic than the insertion." - Sarah-Grace, 25
7. "I had [the Mirena] inserted when I was 18 and taken out last year. It was a little stuck, so [my doctor] was yanking on it for 15 to 20 minutes before it came out. It felt like a fish hook pulling down on my cervix, and also intense pressure. I probably would have been OK if it came right out, but I was so sore I couldn't even go to work the next day. I still think it's worth the pain though - I had a new one put in after. I'm just glad they didn't have to surgically remove it. I'll keep getting it replaced!" - Bianca, 24
8. "I had a Paragard IUD inserted on a whim and it was the most painful experience of my life. I had terrible cramps and lots of bleeding for weeks, but I thought those were just normal side effects. I knew for sure that something was wrong when I was cooking one day and felt the IUD strings rubbing between my thighs. A few frantic calls and long days later, I had it removed. The doctor said it was the easiest removal she'd ever done because it was already almost out. It turns out it had expelled itself. What I thought was really bad period cramps was actually the pain from the expulsion. I only had the IUD for about a month total, but during that time, I knew it was the right birth control method for me. I tried again with the Mirena. I was really worried that I would have a negative experience again, but I've had my Mirena for eight months now with no issues. I'm so glad I gave it another shot!" - Kylie, 23
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