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The real problem with women removing their own IUDs

August 31, 2021, 12:15 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Director Nia DaCosta sets a box office record, Texas’s abortion ban is set to go into effect, and women are removing their own IUDs. Have a great Tuesday.

– DIY IUD removal.  It’s one of the most cringe-worthy headlines I’ve read in a while: “Doctors are refusing to take out IUDs, so people are pulling them out at home—and posting how-to videos on TikTok and YouTube.”

My first thought: Ouch! 

But dig into the Business Insider story by sociology Ph.D. candidates Andréa Becker at CUNY Graduate Center in New York and Kathleen Broussard at the University of Texas, Austin, and you’ll find some reassuring takeaways: women who’ve DIY-ed IUD extractions say it’s mostly painless, some doctors are actually fitting IUDs especially for home removal, and both doctors and patients say a woman’s ability to take an IUD out herself is empowering since it gives her more autonomy over her body. 

Even if the procedure is mostly straightforward and safe, there’s still cause for alarm over what the trend represents: women pursuing an at-home solution because the standard procedure, removal by a medical professional, is either inaccessible or too expensive.

For some women, the cost of removing an IUD—$262 on average at clinics without a sliding scale for the procedure—is prohibitive; many insurance plans don’t cover it the way they do insertion. 

Other women ran into health care providers who “delayed or dissuaded” IUD removal, BI reports

Paige LeAnn, a full-time YouTuber whose IUD video has over 12,000 views, wanted her device out after two years because she said it caused weight gain, cramping, and depression. When LeAnn sought removal, one doctor suggested she get evaluated for anxiety instead. “He had never heard of ‘these symptoms,’” she said. Another woman, social-service specialist and YouTuber Tieesha Essex of Georgia, says her doctor would only remove her IUD if she committed to taking a different form of birth control, which she didn’t want to do. 

The popularity of IUD has jumped in recent years, but it’s baffling that the same health care system that so emphatically recommends the effective, low-maintenance form of contraception doesn’t fully support the entire spectrum of needs associated with the device—especially a woman’s decision to no longer use it. 

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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"Life is too short not to be true to who you are and what you need."

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