When IUDs Go Wrong: Exploring the Potential for Breakage Inside the Uterus

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) have become increasingly popular as a reliable and convenient method of birth control for many women. They offer long-term contraception without requiring daily attention, making them a convenient choice for those seeking effective family planning.

While IUDs are generally safe and effective, there are instances when complications can arise, such as IUD breakage inside the uterus. In this article, we will delve into this concerning issue, exploring the potential for IUD breakage and the implications it may have on women’s health.

Understanding IUDs and How They Work

Before delving into potential issues, let’s first understand what IUDs are and how they function. IUDs are small, T-shaped devices made of plastic or copper that are inserted into the uterus by a healthcare provider.

They work by releasing hormones (in the case of hormonal IUDs) or through copper ions (in the case of copper IUDs) to prevent pregnancy. The hormonal IUD thickens cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg, while the copper IUD creates an inhospitable environment for sperm, preventing fertilization.

IUD Breakage: Causes and Risk Factors

While IUDs are generally considered safe, breakage can occur in rare cases. Although fracture rates are documented to be 1%–2% with the use of early IUDs, recent instances have raised concerns, especially with specific brands like the Paragard IUD, as reported by TorHoerman Law.

In fact, the Paragard IUD has been at the center of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the federal court of Georgia. According to recent data, there are approximately 1800 lawsuits pending.

These Paragard IUD lawsuit cases allege that the Paragard IUD has a higher risk of breakage and complications compared to other IUDs. As a result, women have reported experiencing serious health issues when the device breaks inside the uterus.

There are several potential causes and risk factors associated with IUD breakage inside the uterus:

Incorrect Insertion

Improper insertion of the IUD by the healthcare provider or incorrect placement of the device within the uterus could lead to potential problems, such as breakage. Data suggests that rates of failed IUD insertions can be as high as 18%. In such instances, the IUD may not be correctly positioned, increasing the risk of displacement or breakage.

Ensuring proper insertion and placement of the IUD is essential to minimize the chances of complications and ensure its effective function as a reliable contraceptive method

IUD Expulsion

In some cases, the IUD may be partially or fully expelled from the uterus, which is known as expulsion. When the IUD is partially expelled, it can increase the risk of breakage as it may not be properly positioned. According to ScienceDirect, the cumulative risk of IUD expulsion over a 3-year period of use is reported to be 10%.

Uterine Abnormalities

A Bicornuate uterus, characterized by its irregular shape resembling a heart, is associated with a higher likelihood of uterine rupture during labor, which could potentially contribute to the risk of IUD breakage in such cases.

Physical Trauma

Engaging in activities that put excessive pressure on the pelvic region or experiencing a traumatic injury could potentially lead to IUD breakage.

IUD Type

While some studies indicate that certain types of IUDs may have a higher propensity for breakage, it is important to note that this remains an area of ongoing research.

According to a report from ScienceDirect, which examined 170,215 adverse events, it was found that copper IUDs had a higher proportion of breakages (9.6%) compared to hormonal IUDs (1.7%).

The data highlights the need for further investigation into the potential differences in breakage rates among various IUD types and emphasizes the significance of understanding the factors that contribute to IUD safety and effectiveness.

Signs and Symptoms of IUD Breakage

Identifying IUD breakage can be challenging since it often goes unnoticed by the individual using it. However, some signs and symptoms that may indicate a potential issue include:

  • Unexplained or persistent pelvic pain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Feeling the IUD strings are longer or shorter than usual
  • Difficulty locating the IUD strings

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you experience any of the above symptoms or suspect that your IUD has broken, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. A healthcare provider will perform a pelvic examination to check the IUD’s position and may use imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, to assess the situation further.

Treatment options for IUD breakage depend on various factors, including the type of IUD, its location, and the severity of the breakage. In some cases, the IUD may need to be removed, and a new one can be inserted if desired.

In more severe cases, additional medical interventions, such as hysteroscopy (a procedure to view and potentially retrieve the IUD) or surgery, may be necessary.

Preventing IUD Breakage

While IUD breakage is a rare occurrence, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the risk:

  • Choose a reputable healthcare provider: Ensure that you choose a qualified and experienced healthcare provider for IUD insertion to reduce the chances of improper placement.
  • Regularly check IUD strings: After IUD insertion, regularly check the strings to ensure they are in place. If you cannot feel the strings or notice any changes, contact your healthcare provider promptly.
  • Schedule regular check-ups: Regularly visit your healthcare provider for routine check-ups and IUD maintenance.
  • Understand potential risks: Educate yourself about the potential risks associated with IUD use and discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.


In conclusion, IUD breakage inside the uterus is a rare but potentially serious issue that warrants attention. Understanding the causes, risk factors, and signs of IUD breakage is essential for every woman using this form of birth control. Remember, IUDs are generally considered safe and effective, and the benefits often outweigh the risks.

If you have any concerns about your IUD or experience any unusual symptoms, consult your healthcare provider promptly. Always prioritize your reproductive health and make informed decisions about the contraception methods that suit your individual needs.