When it comes to birth control, an intrauterine device (IUD) is a top pick for those wanting to prevent pregnancy. It’s also a simple method to reverse when baby fever kicks in, and you’re ready to start trying for a little one.
And since the procedure to remove an IUD only takes minutes, you might be wondering if getting pregnant after removal happens just as fast. The good news? Fertility returns almost immediately after IUD removal.
Read on to learn more about when to remove an IUD, how soon you can get pregnant after having your IUD removed, and how to prevent pregnancy if you’re not quite ready.
Before diving into when you should remove an IUD if trying to conceive, it’s important to note that there are two types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal (copper).
Both are placed in the uterus, but a hormonal IUD releases small amounts of the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy, whereas the nonhormonal IUD uses copper, which acts as a spermicide to prevent pregnancy.
You can have an IUD removed at any time, which makes it a top pick for people who know they may want to get pregnant in the future. Fertility can return immediately after IUD removal, so there is no waiting period for trying to conceive after removal.
However, getting pregnant after IUD removal also hinges on the absence of other fertility issues not related to an IUD.
One of the advantages of using an IUD is how quickly you can conceive after removal. In general, the ability to get pregnant will immediately go back to whatever is normal for you.
Since the IUD is local on the uterus, hormone production isn’t generally affected. You can attempt pregnancy the first month after IUD removal, says Jessica Scotchie, MD, board certified OB-GYN and co-founder of Tennessee Reproductive Medicine.
That said, the average amount of time it takes depends on your age and other medical and gynecologic issues. Here, Scotchie shares some general guidelines, timelines, and odds of getting pregnant at various ages:
- Under the age of 35, there’s a 20 percent chance each month of conceiving, with 60 percent conceiving by 6 months, and 85 to 90 percent conceiving by 1 year.
- If you’re over 35 years old, the odds of conceiving drops to about 10 to 15 percent chance per month.
- If you’re over 40 years old, the chance of conceiving decreases further, to about 5 percent chance each month.
Every form of birth control comes with some risk, which is why you may wonder if there’s a higher risk of pregnancy complications after IUD removal.
The good news, says Zaher Merhi, MD, board certified OB-GYN and fertility expert at New Hope Fertility Center, is there’s no increased risk of ectopic pregnancy after IUD removal.
However, he does point out that if you get pregnant while the IUD is still in the uterus, you have a higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy.
And if you’re hoping for twins, don’t count on prior use of an IUD to increase your chances. Merhi says there are no higher risks of having twins after IUD removal.
Difficulty getting pregnant after IUD removal may often have nothing to do with an IUD. In most circumstances, birth control methods don’t delay fertility.
According to a 2018 review of studies, contraceptive use regardless of duration and type doesn’t have a negative effect on the ability to conceive after removal or discontinuation. The researchers also found that it doesn’t delay fertility.
In fact, of the 14,884 women included in the study review, 83 percent were able to get pregnant within the first 12 months after contraceptive discontinuation. This includes the removal of IUDs, with 2,374 women making up the group of IUD users.
With that in mind, Scotchie says if you have any underlying fertility problems that wouldn’t necessarily present when an IUD is in place — such as ovulation irregularity, heavy and irregular periods, or pelvic pain — your chances of conceiving may be affected.
“Anyone with irregular cycles, heavy, painful menses, or who has been trying to conceive for 12 months without success (if under 35 years old) or 6 months without success (if over 35 years old) should see a physician,” explains Scotchie.
Another reason you may have trouble getting pregnant after IUD removal, says Merhi, is scarring in the uterus from the IUD itself. “This is especially true if you had any type of infection, which could cause difficulty conceiving and might increase the chance of a miscarriage,” he says.
Scotchie says you can remove an IUD at any time. But if you want to prevent pregnancy right away, you need to use another form of contraception such as condoms or birth control pills until you want to become pregnant.
Talk with your doctor ahead of time to determine the right method of birth control for you. Examples of other reversible methods include:
- oral contraceptives
- birth control implant or shot
- cervical cap
Make sure to tell your doctor if you want to start trying within a few months after IUD removal. This may impact the type of birth control method they recommend.
If baby-making is in your future, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss IUD removal. They can help you:
- decide when to remove an IUD
- know what to expect in the fertility department
- figure out how long it may take to get pregnant
- understand how to prevent pregnancy if you want to wait a few months to try after removing an IUD