Anyone who’s looked into getting an IUD is probably already familiar with the fact that it is possible for the device to slip out of place — but few things drive home how important it is to check regularly on the state of your IUD more strongly than this Reddit post about an IUD literally falling out of someone’s body. Because IUDs, it turns out, can fall out without you even noticing.
The post, which was published on the r/TwoXChromosomes subreddit earlier today, is short, so there aren’t many details to go off of with regards to this particular situation; the whole thing reads simply:
“We were very confused how I got pregnant, and got an ultrasound to get it removed and deal with any potential issues. My OBGYN said ‘uh, I see a baby but there is definitely no IUD in there’ IT FELL OUT at some point. So now I have a honeymoon baby. Be careful out there ladies.”
If I’ve read the situation correctly, it seems that the Redditor unexpectedly got pregnant on their honeymoon recently, despite the fact that they had an IUD at the time — and when they went to the OB/GYN to get the IUD removed and possibly have a general checkup in terms of how the pregnancy was going, the ultrasound revealed that the IUD was no longer in the Redditor’s uterus. Or anywhere else in their body, for that matter. Since there’s really only one explanation for the complete disappearance of an IUD, it's likely that the device fell out at some point without the Redditor noticing.
I doubt I am the only person whose immediate reaction to this situation was this:
Or perhaps this:
Mostly because I didn’t know that that was even possible.
Again, it is true that most people who have considered getting an IUD are aware that slippage — or IUD expulsion, as it’s called — can, in fact, occur. According to Planned Parenthood, the likelihood of IUD expulsion occurring is small; however, since it’s not unheard of, it’s important to reach in to check whether the strings hanging down from the device out of your cervix are still in place about once a month. Although IUD slippage can occur at any time, it’s most common during the first three months of insertion, as well as more likely to happen when you’re actually on your period.
I’ve had an IUD since 2012 myself, so I am quite familiar with the whole “check your IUD strings periodically to make sure the thing is still in place” song and dance; however, I will freely admit that in all that time, it never once occurred to me that an IUD could actually fall out of your body, completely and utterly. Every time I’ve heard about the possibility that it could slip out of place, I’ve always thought that meant it could just slide down a bit such that it’s no longer firmly nestled in the uterus. That’s still a problem, of course, and still something to get checked out, should it occur — although in hindsight, I probably should have realized that the term “IUD expulsion” could actually encompass the device departing your body, too.
But, I mean, hey, at least now I know, right?
Experts still aren’t entirely sure what causes IUD expulsion, but according to Caitlin Hoff, Health & Safety Investigator at ConsumerSafety.org, people who are more at risk it include folks with a small uterus and people with heavier menstrual flows. “Studies are still looking into risk factors and explanations for an IUD expulsion,” Hoff told Bustle’s Laken Howard in 2017, “but many believe that a small uterus leaves you vulnerable to an IUD falling out. This demographic would include [people] under 20 or [people] who have never been pregnant.” Added Hoff, “Because IUDs tend to fall out during [someone’s] period, [people] with heavier menstrual cycles are also at risk for expulsion.”
An expulsion could also just be your body rejecting the device. As Mary Jane Minkin, M.D. told SELF in 2016, sometimes it’s just as if “your uterus says, ‘I’m tired of having this in here’ and spits it out.”
For anyone wondering how you could fail to notice that your IUD had literally fallen out of you — well, the devices are not that big. According to HealthLine, the ParaGard is the biggest variety current available; it measures 32 mm by 36 mm, or about 1.25 inches by 1.4 inches. The Mirena is a bit smaller at 32 mm by 32 mm, or around 1.25 inches by 1.25 inches; however, the Skyla wins the (imaginary, completely made-up) award for smallest, measuring a mere 28 mm by 30 mm, or about 1.1 inches by 1.2 inches. IUDs are also very lightweight — so, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the thing could fall out and you wouldn’t even notice. Say it drops into the toilet, for example — once it hits the water and vanishes into the U-bend, you’ll never hear from it again.
Actually, come to think of it, now I’m wondering whether Moaning Myrtle ever had to deal with an errant IUD ending up in her favorite hangout spot in the second floor lavatory.
Again, though, the good news is that IUD expulsion is pretty rare. According to Bedsider, the rates are somewhere between .05 percent and eight percent; additionally, Jamil Abdur-Rahman, M.D. told SELF anecdotally, “In 15 years at my practice, I think I’ve seen it maybe three times.”
If you do suspect that your IUD has been expelled, though, get thee to a doctor as soon as you can to get things checked out (uterine perforation due to a displaced IUD is rare, but can be a major complication) — and, if a) the kind of sex you prefer to have can lead to pregnancy, and b) you have no desire to become pregnant right now, start using a backup contraceptive option immediately. Once an IUD has come out, you are no longer protected from pregnancy, so if that’s a concern for you, you’ll want to put a new system into place before you have sex again.
Bedsider has a few more useful tips on what to do if you think you might have an IUD expulsion on your hands, so I’ll send you over there for more. Knowledge is power, after all.