"I wish they could hold on a little longer": physicians' experiences with requests for early IUD removal

Contraception. 2017 Aug;96(2):106-110. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2017.05.007. Epub 2017 May 31.


Objective: This study describes the perceptions and experiences of family physicians when women request early intrauterine device (IUD) removal.

Study design: This qualitative study included semistructured individual interviews with 12 physicians who encountered patients seeking early IUD removal. We identified eligible participants via chart review. We analyzed interviews using deductive and inductive techniques to identify content and themes.

Results: Physicians consistently referred to IUDs as the "best" or their "favorite" method, and several joked that they tried to "sell" the IUD during contraceptive counseling. Most reported having mixed or negative feelings when patients opted to remove the IUD. Most encouraged their patients to continue the IUD, hoping to delay removal until symptoms resolved so that removal was not needed. Some physicians reported feeling guilty or as if they had "failed" when a patient wanted the IUD removed. Many providers reported a conflict between valuing patient autonomy and feeling that early removal was not in the patient's best interest.

Conclusions: Physicians have complex and contradictory feelings about early IUD removal. While most providers acknowledged the need for patient autonomy, they still reported encouraging IUD continuation based on their own opinion about the IUD.

Implications: While IUDs are highly effective and well-liked contraceptives, providers' responses to IUD removal requests have implications for both reproductive autonomy as well as the doctor-patient relationship. More work is needed to ensure that providers remove a patient's IUD when requested.

Keywords: Discontinuation; Family medicine center; Intrauterine device; Qualitative.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Decision Making
  • Device Removal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices*
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research