Dear Alice,

I recently had an IUD inserted. I'm not currently having sex, but wanted to be prepared as I am seeing someone who I may become sexually involved with.

My concern is I was told the IUD would need to be removed if I had sex with a partner and then changed partners later. This IUD is a 5-year IUD and the cost was quite a bit. If I have sex now and then stop for a year (or any period of time) and was to become sexually involved again with another partner, why would it need to be removed? If STDs are not an issue, does it still need to be removed?

Dear Reader,

The great thing about the intrauterine device (IUD) is that it’s considered a long-acting reversible contraceptive, which means you can have it inserted and doesn't require much regular management to achieve maximum effectiveness! Additionally, since it's reversible, it can be removed at any time by a health care provider and the user will resume their fertility. Unlike other birth control methods that require you to do something each day, week, or month, such as the pill and the vaginal ring, IUDs can remain in place for three to ten years depending on the specific type, and they don't need to be replaced with each partner. While this form of contraception doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), there is no increased chance of becoming pregnant while using the IUD with changes in sexual partners.

Though the IUD can cover you on the pregnancy prevention front, it’s wise to also use a barrier method such as an external or internal condom, to protect yourself and your partner from STI transmission. In addition, getting an STI screening regularly is a great way to reduce the spread of infections and stay on top of your sexual health. 

If everything is going smoothly with the IUD and you choose to keep it in place, the insertion of a finger, tampon, penis, or other objects in the vaginal canal likely won't affect its effectiveness. If you do choose to remove your IUD, whether it’s because you’d like to get pregnant, are unhappy with the side effects, experience discomfort, or the active duration is ending, you can make an appointment with your health care provider to have it removed. Unless you’re trying to get pregnant or are replacing your IUD with a new one, it’s best to use a backup form of birth control, as pregnancy is possible immediately after removal.

Here’s to a healthy and happy sex life!

Alice!

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