Picture: Unsplash/ Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition
Picture: Unsplash/ Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

Doctors blast TikTok trend that sees women remove their own contraceptive coils

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Sep 20, 2021

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The IUD is a popular choice of contraception for many women around the world - but many are opting to remove it without medical advice or medical assistance.

Doctors have slammed this new “hack” popular on TikTok which sees women posting their 'IUD removal' - with some boasting it took them 'just two minutes'.

The trend may have been popularised by a TIkTok creator, Mikkiegallagher, who is from the US but now lives in Ireland, who showed a close-up of her face while pulling the device out, warning her viewers that she wasn't giving medical advice on her video. Others followed with similar videos.

@mikkiegallagher this is NOT medical advice but it only took 2 minutes 😳 #fyp #momsoftiktok #periods #iudremoval #iud #mirena #momtok #diy #birthcontrol #gonefishing ♬ God Made Girls - RaeLynn

A New York-based OB-GYN Dr Anar Yukhayev told NBC that it is better to get a medic to perform the procedure as they have the right tools.

He said that in some situations, they may even need to use some force.

He added: “The thing is, you have to know exactly how much force to use.

“If you’re using too much force that might mean something is wrong, like the IUD might be stuck.

“When you pull it, you can actually lodge it in a different part of the uterus and make the embedding of the IUD even worse.”

However, many women have been attempting to remove the IUD on their own for a while. A study Foster led on women’s thoughts about and attempts to remove their own IUD found that more than half of 326 women in the study were willing to try to take out their IUD themselves. But, of those who tried, only one in five succeeded.

For those who managed to get it out, the whole process took less than 4 minutes. The main difference between those who got it out and those who didn’t was the length of the IUD string. Strings that were at least 7 centimeters long were easier for women to feel and grab onto. Women who tried taking it out while propping one foot on a stool also had more trouble getting their IUDs out.

But OB-GYN Dr Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women’s Health Institute at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, does not advise women doing it themselves. Bachumann told TODAY it's better to remove IUD in a 'controlled environment', as doctors are better equipped to deal with any issues that may arise.

She added: 'When we take it out in the office, everything is visualised as you are doing it more or less blindly (at home).

“If it's embedded in the muscle layer of the uterus, which can happen, it can cause a lot more bleeding, a lot more pain and it can actually bring the uterus down with it, which is not something that one would want.”

Another Tiktoker, who is also a medical doctor, Dr Jennifer Lincoln, is a board-certified OB-GYN in Portland, shared a video with a TikTok account with 2.3 million followers saying otherwise.

@drjenniferlincoln Is home #IUD removal ok?? #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner #iudcheck #healthclass #obgyn #fyi #iudremoval ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod

In the video she is heard asking: “Can you take out your own IUD”

Then she answered by saying, “'Honestly, actually probably, you can. IUD removals are actually really straightforward and simple most of the time.

“In fact, I've taken out two of my own IUDs at home because I didn't feel like making an appointment.

“'If you're able to easily grasp the string and with a gentle tug remove it, cool. But if you can't get the string, or it hurts, or you pull on it and it doesn't come out, you need to stop.

“Some other OB-GYNs may disagree with me, and that's ok, but going to the doctor to have an IUD removed can sometimes be a little difficult when it comes to childcare and cost.

“But by the same token, if you want to come in and have us do it, we're more than happy,’’ says Lincoln.

A trend will pass but the health effects of a trend may last forever. While this may seem easy, it may be harmful to do it yourself. To be safe, rather consult a medical professional.

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