Now, a new trend has popped up on the social media platform where women are filming themselves removing their intrauterine devices (IUD), a procedure doctors say shouldn’t be performed at home.
An IUD is a small device inserted into the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy and sometimes to control periods and period pain.
TikTok user Mikkie Gallagher’s video from earlier this year in which she does a ‘DIY’ removal has been popping up on people’s feeds again and only just going viral, prompting medical professionals to speak out.
“This is NOT medical advice but it only took two minutes,” Gallagher captioned the clip, in which her 24,000 followers see her top half as she removes the IUD in a pair of surgical gloves. “Come along for a little DIY IUD removal,” reads the narration text at the start, before she adds she’s “Diving right in…”
The video has clocked up two million views on TikTok, and attracted mixed responses in the comments section.
“Sooo I did this and now my cervix is permanently open more than it should be and I can never get an IUD again :),” one user wrote.
“Please if your IUD is resisting when you pull, do not incase it has embedded in your uterus,” wrote another.
The #iudremoval hashtag has over 64 million views with a mixture of videos of some women trying the procedure at home and others documenting their visit to the doctor to get it done safely.
Family Planning Victoria‘s Chief Executive Officer Claire Vissenga has spoken out after seeing Gallagher’s video, which she believes shows “no signs of slowing in popularity.” She said it’s “imperative” that women get IUDs removed by a GP, nurse or medical professional.
“If not done by a trained medical professional, pulling an IUD through the cervix can cause pain and may make a person faint,” Vissenga said in a statement provided to Refinery29 Australia.
Dr Kathleen McNamee, who is a GP and Family Planning Victoria’s Medical Director, said following the advice of individuals on TikTok is dangerous because devices differ and specific medical equipment is needed for safe removal.
“Not all IUDs are created equally,” she explained. “Some require careful traction on the thread using a special instrument for removal. If you pull too hard, the thread can snap off, making it a more complicated procedure.”
Dr McNamee said many Aussie women have tried the procedure at home, producing detrimental results that then require further medical attention.
“Statistics show that 80% of do-it-yourself IUD removals fail, resulting in a visit to already overcrowded emergency rooms or GP clinics,” she said.
Trying this at home could also impact future contraception.
“We are concerned that if the person dislodges the IUD in a failed attempt, it could no longer be effective as a contraceptive method and result in an unwanted pregnancy,” she explained.
With so much online information and content at our fingertips and videos of other women trying the procedure and claiming it worked for them, some might find it tempting to give it a go. But Dr McNamee says that seeking professional advice is the best way to go.
“For any questions or concerns about your sexual health and fertility management, please don’t scroll [on] your phone,” she said. “Go and see your GP or Family Planning Clinic.”
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