How Likely Is It To Get Pregnant with an IUD?

Medically Reviewed on 8/26/2021

What is an IUD?

Getting pregnant while you have an IUD is extremely rare. There is one out of a hundred chances that this could happen. However, it has happened before.
Getting pregnant while you have an IUD is extremely rare. There is one out of a hundred chances that this could happen. However, it has happened before.

An IUD is a mistake-proof form of contraceptive. There is no way that you will forget to take it, like a birth control pill. Neither is it very likely that it will break while in use, like a condom. Because of its relative ease and effectiveness, it is one of the most popular birth control methods. However, you might be wondering just how effective are they for preventing pregnancy?

IUD stands for intrauterine device. It is a t-shaped shaped piece of plastic inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. You can either get a copper-covered IUD or a plastic IUD that releases a hormone into the uterus. Copper IUDs work for up to ten years, while plastic IUDs are typically inserted for up to five years. 

While they can stay inserted for many years, they can be removed at any time. IUDs do not guard against STDs. Both inserting them and taking them out is done by trained medical practitioners. 

IUDs can get expelled or partially expelled sometimes without you even knowing. However, there are strings that any woman can always feel for. These strings will tell you if your IUD is still in place and if it is correctly inserted. If it is not, or you suspect that it has been expelled, immediately seek medical attention. 

How do IUDs work?

Both copper-coated and plastic hormonal IUDs work by not letting sperm fertilize women’s eggs. The copper in the copper-coated IUD does this by releasing copper into the womb. It also alters cervical mucus. This slows down the ability of sperm to get to an egg. It also stops fertilized eggs from implanting themselves. 

Plastic hormonal IUDs are covered with the hormone progestin, which functions similarly to copper. However, instead of thickening the uterine lining, it reduces it. Usually, this stops the menstrual cycle and also prevents sperm from getting to the egg. Women who struggle with the heavy flow of their periods sometimes get these IUDs simply to stop their flow. 

Are IUDs effective in preventing pregnancy?

Both types of IUDs are incredibly effective. Less than one percent of all women who get them get pregnant. In other words, fewer than one out of one hundred people using them will accidentally get pregnant.

IUDs are effective as soon as they are correctly inserted, and they stay effective for many years. They are great for women who are not yet ready to start a family. However, they can always be taken out by your medical professional. IUDs do not affect your fertility in any long-term way. You should be able to get pregnant very quickly after you remove the IUD.

What happens if I get pregnant while I have an IUD?

As previously mentioned, getting pregnant while you have an IUD is extremely rare. There is one out of a hundred chances that this could happen. However, it has happened before. Therefore, if you have an IUD and you suspect you are pregnant, you should immediately take an over-the-counter pregnancy test. 

If the test is positive, or if it's negative but you still feel like you need more answers, you should immediately seek medical help from an OBGYN. They will be able to speak with you, perform exams or order any additional testing if needed. Also, if you develop any abnormal pains or start to bleed, make sure to go to the emergency room. 

If you are pregnant and have an IUD, your doctor will first want to ensure that your pregnancy is in the uterus by conducting an ultrasound. They will then look for your IUD strings to see if they are intact. If they are intact, they will remove the device. 

Studies have shown that risks such as early births, infections of the amniotic sack, and fluid are much higher if the IUD is left in place. IUDs increase the chance of risks to your pregnancy. You must get yours removed at the earliest possible time. 

Occasionally, IUD strings can make their way up into the cervix. To remove them, your OBGYN might use a tool or an ultrasound to get them out. Sometimes this happens because the mother’s uterus has grown so much during pregnancy. If this happens, you’ll need to leave your IUD during your entire pregnancy. Otherwise, removal could injure the baby or mother. The IUD can later be found in either the placenta, membrane, or uterus after delivery. 


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Medically Reviewed on 8/26/2021
BetterHealth Channel: “Contraceptions - intrauterine devices(IUD).”

NHS: “Intrauterine device(IUD).”

TeensHealth from Nemours: “The IUD.”

UT Southwestern Medical Center: “What happens if I get pregnant with an IUD?”