Risks of an Expired IUD: When to Seek a Replacement? 

Rishabh Mehta
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

Last Updated:

expired-iud

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly and offer long-term safety. 

However, it is not everlasting, as each IUD has an expiration time, which can vary for hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs. 

This raises questions about the safety and efficiency of an expired IUD but, more importantly, about determining if the device has expired. 

This article presents detailed information about expired IUDs, which helps ensure safety and efficiency while seeking a timely replacement. 

How to know when an IUD expires

Different Intrauterine Devices have different expiration dates. 

The FDA sets these to determine the efficacy period of each IUD. 

Five approved IUDs, along with their approved period, are:

  • Paragard: A non-hormonal IUD, also called copper IUD, which prevents pregnancy for 10 years
  • Mirena: A hormonal IUD with Progestin that prevents pregnancy for eight years
  • Liletta: Another hormonal IUD which prevents pregnancy for six years
  • Kyleena: A hormonal IUD smaller in size than Minera with fewer hormones, which prevents pregnancy for five years
  • Skyla: The least long-lasting hormonal IUD, which prevents pregnancy for three years
Fact:
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) supports the extended use of copper IUD till Menopause if it is inserted for a woman aged 40 or above.

How long does an IUD last after it expires

Copper IUD devicesSource: Mariakray
Closeup of a doctor holding copper IUD device

An IUD is fitted inside the uterus and stays inside until removed. 

As per a 2015 study, the 52 mg hormonal IUD can last up to 1 year after it expires. 

Another 2014 study on the use of copper IUDs and the Levonorgestrel Intrauterine System (LNG-IUS) for extended periods over approved time found that different IUDs effectively functioned for 4-12 years. 

However, it is still advisable to get removed or replaced, whatever is suitable, to avoid risks like infection or complications in removal.

If you wish to continue with the same IUD, consulting a doctor is necessary.

What happens when the IUD expires

When an IUD expires, the efficiency in preventing pregnancy can be affected. 

So, it may not be a reliable contraceptive anymore, which can result in pregnancy. 

Expired iud symptoms and side effects

In addition to affecting the efficiency of pregnancy prevention, an expired IUD may also:

Complicated removal

All IUDs are linked with a risk of uterine perforation, where the surrounding blood vessels are injured. 

It can occur at the time of insertion or with time as the uterine wall wears off. 

These can be diagnosed after years, of which 43 years is the longest known insertion to diagnosis time. 

Uterine perforation is also linked with a risk of fracture, where a piece breaks off inside the body upon removal.

Although the risk of both conditions is low, it is never zero. 

Such conditions can worsen with expired IUDs, as leaving them inside for a long time can increase the damage and make removal complicated as the procedures involved are difficult. 

Infection

vaginal injurySource: Porntep-Kawjun
Woman suffering from IUD infection

Leaving an IUD inside for long increases the risk of infection. 

This was confirmed by a case study where a woman with prolonged use of an IUD developed Abdominal wall actinomycosis.

Moreover, a study found that IUD users with a history of infection also had an increased risk of infertility. 

Expulsion

IUD expulsion is described as partial or complete displacement of an IUD. 

It may happen within the early months of insertion but also years later. 

A 2022 study found that at 5 years, the expulsion rate was double the numbers reported in the first. 

So, an expired IUD also involves a risk of slipping out, which causes not only removal complications but also pregnancy.

Warning:
In some cases, IUDs can cause septic shock and Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). Certain bacterial infections like Staphylococcus infections release toxins in the bloodstream resulting in TSS, which can cause organ failure or even prove fatal. Contacting a doctor immediately for treatment is recommended to avoid fatality. 

Complications in pregnancy with expired IUD

The use of an expired IUD can also increase risks in case of contraceptive failures. 

Ectopic pregnancy

It is a complication that arises when pregnancy occurs outside the uterus. 

If a woman gets pregnant with an IUD in place, be it an expired one, the risk of ectopic pregnancy increases. 

Miscarriage

Miscarriage is another possible threat that comes along with the use of an expired IUD. 

Whenever pregnancy occurs with IUD still in place, it can result in miscarriage. 

 In such cases, the IUD needs to be removed by a doctor as soon as possible. 

When to seek removal or replacement

You must seek a replacement for your IUD if:

  • It has gone past the approved time
  • You do not want to get pregnant
Recommended Article
To know about IUD removal, its needs and impacts in detail, read IUD Removal: Exploring the Procedure and Reasons Behind it.

You should seek a removal in case:

  • You wish to get pregnant
  • Experience excessive bleeding, discomfort, or pain
  • Have an infection
  • Get pregnant 
  • IUD has fractured 

For best advice and safety, consulting a doctor is recommended.

Conclusion

IUDs are an effective way to prevent pregnancy, but they are not everlasting. 

The efficacy period of different IUDs ranges from 3-10 years, depending on the type used.

After that, they must be replaced to avoid pregnancy.

Although some studies have shown that using IUDs after the approved time can be effective and cost-efficient, consulting a doctor for safety is recommended.

Some risks associated with expired IUDs are pregnancy, infections, complicated removal, and expulsion.

However, the chances of such occurrences are rare.

In case of excessive bleeding, infections, IUD fracture, pregnancy, or pain, seeking IUD removal is the best option to eliminate risks and ensure safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can an expired IUD stay in your system? 

Expired IUDs can stay in the system for years but may involve risks. Studies have shown that women using IUDs over the approved time benefitted for over a year. No adversity was reported. However, the risk of infections or removal complications is always present, even if low.

Can an expired IUD cause weight gain? 

Weight gain complaints from IUDs are anecdotal. There is no evidence to support that IUDs, whether expired or not, caused weight gain. If you feel you gained weight due to IUD, contact a doctor immediately for further advice. 

What happens if you have an expired IUD?

An expired IUD might remain safe and effective years after its approved time. However, some of the risks associated with it are infections, pregnancy, and complications in the removal procedure. To avoid these, one must keep track of the time of removal or replacement and get it done on time.

Can an expired iud cause hormonal imbalance? 

There is not enough evidence to support that an expired IUD causes hormonal imbalance. However, some individuals report hormonal imbalance after the removal of any hormonal IUD. This can happen when the hormonal levels drop in the presence of the IUD, and the body is not making enough hormones. 

Citations:
WowRxPharmacy uses only high-quality sources while writing our articles. Please read our content information policy to know more about how we keep our content reliable and trustworthy.

More Articles Like This

Leave a Comment

Receive the latest articles in your inbox!