Can you get pregnant with an IUD? Here’s what the experts want you to know

An IUD held in someone's hand.

How common is pregnancy when you have an IUD? The experts intervene. (Getty Images)

You may have seen him on social media: a newborn holding the IUD his mother had in place when she became pregnant. Videos of these seemingly shocking moments have gone viral on TikTok and other social media platforms, but in reality these moments are staged, like the 2017 viral photo of Lucy Tyler’s newborn, having her hand held IUD for a fun photo. Most recently, 20-year-old mom Violet Quick took to TikTok to share a since-deleted video of her little boy holding an IUD. (Quick did not respond to Yahoo Life requests for comment.)

While babies don’t emerge from the womb triumphantly holding an IUD, these images do raise another question: how can a person with an IUD get pregnant?

First, what is an IUD?

An IUD, short for “intrauterine device,” is one of the most effective forms of long-term birth control on the market. There are two types of IUDs, both of which are T-shaped and inserted into the cervix to prevent pregnancy. The hormonal IUD uses the hormone progestin to thicken the mucus in the cervix to help keep the sperm from fertilizing the egg, as well as thin the lining of the uterus and partially suppress ovulation, according to the Mayo Clinic. There is also a copper IUD, which does not use hormones, but prevents pregnancy due to the copper providing an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and eggs.

While results vary between brands and types, it’s possible for an IUD to prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years, and one can even be used as emergency contraception if inserted within five days of unprotected sex, according to Planned Parenthood.

Why does pregnancy occur with an IUD?

Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life that “pregnancy is rare but not impossible” and occurs in less than 1 percent of women with one IUD in place.

So how could pregnancy be more likely to occur, given these odds?

“Pregnancy is more common if the IUD has slipped into the cervix or actually dropped or expired,” explains Taylor. “A hormonal IUD may not have full effect for a few days after insertion.”

Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, MD, MD at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says: “With millions of sperm in each ejaculate, it’s difficult for any method to block 100 percent of the sperm present. Also, an IUD that slips out of place and not properly occupying the uterine cavity will not prevent implantation.”

She also says, “The overall chance of an IUD being knocked out is 3-4%, so most pregnancies that occur are in women who think they still have an IUD present when it may have fallen out without their knowledge.”

Is it possible for a baby to take an IUD while it is being born?

In short: not really.

“While the IUD and the baby are both in the uterus, the baby is growing in a sac of amniotic fluid. The IUD would be in the uterus but not in the amniotic sac. The baby could not hold the IUD,” says Taylor. “The IUD should be removed in early pregnancy, but otherwise it often comes out at delivery, often with the placenta.”

In fact, Tyler wrote on social media that her Mirena brand of IUD was “found behind my placenta.”

What should you do if you get pregnant with an IUD inserted?

If you plan to continue with a pregnancy, it’s important to remove the IUD as soon as possible, according to Taylor, as it “increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.” There is also a risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, in which an egg is fertilized outside the uterus (typically in the fallopian tubes). Dr. Alice Sutton, associate program director in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UC San Diego Health, adds: ‘If a patient does not wish to continue the pregnancy, the IUD can be removed at the time of delivery. ‘surgical abortion or before a medical abortion’.

If you or someone you know needs help getting an abortion or more information and resources, please visit OR You can also call or text All options hotline at 1-888-493-0092; offers “unconditional, nonjudgmental support for people in all of their decisions, feelings, and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption.”

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