The risky “DIY IUD removal” trend was first shown in a video by TikTok creator Mikki Gallagher, who is from the US but now lives in Ireland.
In the caption to her video, she warns her almost 25,000 followers that she is not giving them medical advice, but noted that removing her IUD by herself was “a lot easier than I thought”.
“It only took two minutes,” she wrote. In the video, she puts on a latex glove and purportedly pulls out the IUD out of view of the camera. She then holds it up for viewers to see.
The TikTok video garnered more than two million views and viewers left thousands of comments with mixed reactions.
One person wrote: “Did the same thing! Was a lot more scary than it was painful or difficult.”
Gallagher responded: “Yes! They are truly designed to be removed easily so it should be fine but it’s just the fear of the what if’s.”
A number of comments came from women who said they were considering or planning to try “yanking” their own IUDs out after seeing the video.
A hashtag created for the trend, #iudremoval, has more than 64 million tags linked to videos of women trying to procedure at home or filming their visit to the doctor.
Other women warned against the trend, with one person recalling their experience: “I just got out of surgery for IUD removal because that s*** was embedded in my uterine muscle. It couldn’t just be pulled out. Be careful!”
Another wrote: “The problem is you can severely hurt your uterus, mine fell and wrapped around my cervix, tearing it apart and causing severe bleeding.”
Doctors are urging women not to try this at home, as if the device is embedded in the uterus, it could lead to severe pain and bleeding, or result in a uterine prolapse.
Dr Gloria Bachmann, an OB-GYN and director of the Women’s Health Institute at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, told TODAY: “It is better to do it in a controlled environment.
“When we take it out in the office, everything is visualised [but] you are doing it more or less blindly [at home].
“If it’s embedded in the muscle layer of the uterus, which can happen, it can cause a lot more bleeding, a lot more pain, and it can actually bring the uterus down with it, which is not something that one would want,” she added.
Dr Kathleen McNamee, medical director of Family Planning Victoria, told Refinery29 Australia: “Not all IUDs are created equally. 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.”
The Independent has contacted the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for comment.