Women's Health

Gynecologist FAQs: IUD Insertion, Removal and More

Do your patients have the info they need to feel confident in their birth control? Review these IUD insertion, removal and other FAQs to help make sure they do.

OB/GYN patients have more contraceptive choices than ever; increasingly, intrauterine devices (IUDs) are topping the list as an effective, convenient and long-acting option. Still, patient awareness gaps exist. Read our collection of frequently asked questions about IUD insertion, removal and care to help patients make the best selections for their contraceptive needs.

1. What do patients need to know about IUD placement?

Even though IUDs are longer-lasting, reversible and considered superior to other birth control methods, many patients may be worried about misplacement or pain during the insertion process. Refer to this insertion and placement guide to learn how you can use 3D ultrasound to help your patients feel confident in the process of placing an IUD.

2. How can providers ensure a smooth IUD insertion process?

Keep it simple. That's the motto of Dr. Lisbet Hanson, who recommends that clinicians perform a three-part approach to streamline device insertion: Evaluate the uterus, insert the device and confirm its position. Importantly, all three steps rely on 3D ultrasound for optimal accuracy.

3. How can 3D ultrasound diagnose a malpositioned IUD?

A misplaced IUD can lead to pain, bleeding and unintended conception. Using 3D ultrasound (which provides a viewpoint of the coronal plane to better confirm the device's location), practitioners can more quickly diagnose problems without the costs, wait times or risks associated with other imaging options.

4. Which IUD ultrasounds can locate all types of devices?

Compared to copper devices, hormonal IUDs vary in mechanics and makeup, and they contain no metal, which can make them more difficult to detect on traditional 2D ultrasound. That's why many providers turn to 3D ultrasound as the imaging solution of choice to improve visualization and confirm the placement of all types of IUDs.

5. What are some IUD placement ultrasound best practices?

When it comes to an IUD check, not all methods to confirm placement are equally effective. Strings may not always be present during a simple pelvic exam, for example, and 2D ultrasound may not always detect non-metallic devices. For a more accurate assessment, consider using 3D ultrasound to locate all types of devices, consistently and confidently.

6. How can an ultrasound be helpful during IUD removal?

Though clinicians typically remove IUDs by using forceps to tug the device strings, there may be occasions when a patient's IUD strings are not easily accessible. If that happens, a 3D transabdominal ultrasound can help confirm the device is intrauterine as well as support exploration of the uterine cavity and removal via an IUD hook. Learn the step-by-step protocol with this resource.

7. Why are IUDs among the best birth control options after 40?

IUDs are an excellent choice for OB/GYN patients of all ages, but they may have special utility for older patients. First, depending on the patient's age when the device is inserted, some experts suggest patients can keep the same IUD until menopause. Second, some IUDs are nonhormonal, which may be another favorable attribute. Read this guide to learn more about these and other advantages to share with your patients.

8. What are the latest trends in contraceptive technology for 2020?

From once-a-month birth control pills to slimmer IUD structures, 2020 has brought no shortage of innovations in contraceptive technology. Given all the buzz, providers are very likely to get some patient questions on these new solutions and others, so stay informed with this simple guide.

As new contraceptive innovations continue to emerge, it is more important than ever to utilize the latest technology, such as 3D ultrasound, to create care plans and provide patients' peace of mind in their contraceptive choices.