An IUD may sometimes shift out of place and dislodge partially or fully from the uterus. IUD displacement may be more likely in the first 3 months after getting one.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a long lasting form of birth control. An IUD is a small device that sits in the uterus to prevent sperm from fertilizing with an egg.
People may have the copper IUD, a nonhormonal form of birth control, or the hormonal IUD which contains the hormone progestin.
This article looks at signs of a displaced IUD, how to check, and what to do if an IUD has come out of place.
People may not experience any symptoms if an IUD is out of place, but signs may include:
- not being able to feel the string of the IUD in the vagina
- the string feeling shorter or longer than usual
- feeling the IUD during sex
- feeling the bottom of the IUD, which can feel like hard plastic, coming out of the cervix
- abdominal cramping, pain, or discomfort
- unusual vaginal discharge
- heavier or atypical vaginal bleeding
- fever or chills
An IUD will have a thin string that hangs down from the uterus and cervix into the top of the vagina, usually around 1–2 inches long.
People will be able to feel for these strings to check that the IUD is still in place.
To do this, people should first clean their hands. They should then sit or squat and insert the index finger or middle finger into the vagina until they touch the cervix. The cervix feels firm, similar to the tip of the nose.
A person should be able to feel the strings. It is important to avoid pulling on the strings, as this could move the IUD out of place.
If people are on their period and cannot feel the string, they may want to check any period products for the IUD.
People may want to check their IUD is still in place a few times throughout the first month of getting an IUD, and then after every period after that.
An IUD may have fallen out of place if a person cannot feel the strings, or if the strings feel longer or shorter than usual.
If an IUD has fallen out of place, a person no longer has protection against becoming pregnant. People may need to use a different type of birth control or seek emergency birth control if they think they could be pregnant.
If people have located a displaced IUD, it is important they do not try to replace it themselves. People will need to contact a doctor as soon as possible if an IUD has fallen out of place. A doctor will be able to check if the IUD is displaced.
If an IUD falls out of place, it most commonly happens during the first 3 months after insertion, although it may happen at any time. It is also more likely to fall out during a period.
Risk factors that may make IUD displacement more likely include:
- insertion of IUD straight after giving birth
- abnormal uterus position
- incorrect fitting and insertion of an IUD
- using a menstrual cup
- IUD does not fit the shape or size of the uterus
Every method of contraception has pros and cons. A person may wish to speak with a doctor about the best form of contraception for them.
According to Planned Parenthood, IUDs:
- are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy
- do not require a person to remember to take medication
- are easily reversible if people wish to conceive
- improve heavy periods and cramping with the use of the hormonal IUD
- are an effective hormone-free form of birth control, with the use of the copper IUD
- are an effective method of emergency contraception, if inserted within 5 days after sex without contraception or a barrier method
- are long lasting
Cons of an IUD
- painful insertion
- a change in bleeding patterns during a period
- irregular bleeding or spotting in between periods
- perforation of the uterus, which can lead to bleeding or infection
- falling out of place, which may result in an unintended pregnancy
- an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy or septic abortion if a person conceives with an IUD in place
Speaking with a doctor about birth control options
People can speak with a doctor about which option of birth control may be best for them. They may want to ask a doctor questions
- Does this type of birth control affect hormones?
- Are there any side effects or risks?
- Will this type of birth control also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
- How effective is this birth control in preventing pregnancy?
- How easy is it to use?
- Will it interact with any other health conditions, medications, or supplements?
IUDs do not protect against STIs, so people will need to use additional protection, such as condoms or another barrier method, to reduce the risk of STIs.
The following are frequently asked questions about the IUD.
Can a person get hurt if the IUD is out of place?
In rare cases, an IUD may move out of place and cause damage to the uterus through perforation. If an IUD passes through the outer lining of the uterus, it may cause damage to surrounding blood vessels or affect nearby organs.
Is it possible for the IUD to fall out?
It is possible for an IUD to fall out, which healthcare professionals call expulsion. It is more likely for an IUD to fall out during the first
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the rate of expulsion for IUDs in the first year is 2–10%.
What does it feel like when the IUD falls out?
People may feel anything if an IUD falls out. However, physical symptoms of IUD displacement include abdominal pain or discomfort, severe cramping, and pain or bleeding during sex.
Sometimes an IUD may fall out of place. This may be more likely to occur in the first few months after insertion.
After IUD insertion, people can make sure to attend a follow-up appointment to that the device is still in the correct place.
If people think an IUD has fallen out of place, it is important they use a backup method of contraception and see a doctor as soon as possible.