Can you get pregnant with an IUD? Things you should probably know

Can You Get Pregnant with an IUD?

IUD stands for “intrauterine device,” which is a small T-shaped item that is inserted into the uterus. It is ideal if you are looking for a long-lasting, reversible contraceptive.

There are two types of IUDs:

  • The hormonal IUD – Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, and Skyla.
  • The non-hormonal (copper) IUD – Paragard.

The hormonal IUD releases a hormone called progestin into the body which thickens the mucus of the cervix and acts as a barrier to stop the sperm from fertilizing an egg.

All hormonal IUDs release the same hormone, but there are differences in the size of the device, the amount of hormone released, and, thus, the duration of action.
The non-hormonal IUD, also referred to as the copper IUD, does not contain hormones and can last up to 10 years.

Can you get pregnant with an IUD?

Both hormonal IUDs and copper IUDs have an efficacy rate of >99% which makes them a highly effective form of birth control. The failure rate is very low – less than 1 out of 100 people will get pregnant with an IUD – but it is still possible.

How does it happen?

There are many reasons why you can get pregnant with an IUD. In some cases, the person could become pregnant before the IUD is effective since not all IUDs are effective immediately.

The copper IUD, such as Paragard, protects against pregnancy immediately. The copper changes the atmosphere of the uterus making it toxic for both the egg and the sperm, which causes the sperm to not reach the egg and prevents implantation.

Hormonal IUDs, such as Mirena and Kyleena, can take up to seven days to start functioning, but they could be effective immediately if inserted during the ovulation phase or menstruation.

It is recommended that you use another contraceptive method or refrain from intercourse for seven days after a hormonal IUD is inserted.

Another reason a pregnancy could happen with an IUD is if an expulsion occurs, meaning the IUD shifts and slips partially or entirely out of the uterus. If an expulsion occurs, the IUD will no longer be effective and, therefore, a pregnancy could ensue.

A potential reason for pregnancy with an IUD is not respecting the recommended expiration date. If the IUD remains in your body after its intended duration, there is a high chance a pregnancy will take place.

It is important to know the expiration date for each IUD when choosing which one to use. Of the hormonal IUDs, the expiration times are as follows: Skyla is three years, Kyleena is five years, Liletta is six years, and Mirena is up to eight years. The copper Paragard lasts up to 10 years.

Signs your IUD is out of place:

  • not feeling the strings of the IUD;
  • the strings feel shorter or longer than usual;
  • you and your partner can feel the IUD itself;
  • there’s been a recent change in your bleeding pattern;
  • you have severe cramps; and
  • you have pelvic pain.

If you become pregnant with an IUD, there are increased risks for the pregnancy, including infection surrounding the pregnancy, miscarriage, and premature delivery.

How successful are IUDs as a method of contraception?

IUDs are one of the most effective birth control techniques available as they are over 99% effective. This indicates that less than 1 in 100 IUD users will become pregnant each year.

IUDs are so successful because there is no possibility of user error. You cannot forget to take it (like with a pill) or use it improperly (like condoms). Depending on the type, you are protected from pregnancy 24/7 for 3 to 12 years.

The Paragard (copper), Mirena, and Liletta IUDs are the most efficient emergency contraceptive methods now available. If one of these IUDs is inserted within 120 hours (five days) following unprotected sexual activity, it is more than 99.9% successful at preventing pregnancy. Then, if you choose to, you can keep it and have incredibly effective birth control for 6 to 12 years (depending on which type you get).

Are IUDs effective against STDs?

No, IUDs do not provide protection from STDs. Utilizing condoms or internal condoms every time you have sex reduces your risk of contracting or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases. Using condoms with your IUD is, therefore, the best option.

Can you get an abortion with an IUD?

A person who becomes pregnant while an IUD is in place is more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. This can pose serious health risks, and it requires specific medical treatment.

If the pregnancy is confirmed to not be ectopic, the person can have an abortion. It is recommended that the IUD is removed before a medication (pill) abortion or vacuum abortion.

What if you want to carry the pregnancy to term?

If you decide to continue your pregnancy, a pelvic examination will be performed. If the strings of the IUD are visible, the clinician will remove the IUD carefully.

If the IUD strings are not visible, an ultrasound may be required to determine their position. The following actions are dependent on the location:

  • The IUD is not found. You will require an X-ray in order to find the IUD.
  • The IUD is inside the cervix. The doctor will remove the IUD from the cervix by pulling the threads.
  • The IUD is placed above the cervix. The physician will discuss the risks and consequences associated with prolonging the pregnancy.
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  2. “Can You Get Pregnant with an IUD in Place?” Healthline, Accessed April 2023.
  3. “What to Know About Pregnancy with an IUD.” MedicalNewsToday, Accessed April 2023.
  4. “Can I Have an Abortion if I Have an IUD?” Women on Waves, Accessed April 2023.
  5. Braun, A. “Can You Become Pregnant with an IUD In?” Verywellhealth, Accessed April 2023.
    “Choosing Between Intrauterine Device (IUD) Types.” Healthline, Accessed April 2023.