Can I get an IUD if I’ve never given birth?

IUDs—both copper and hormonal–are very effective forms of birth control. Unfortunately, misinformation about IUDs is common, and many women are led to believe that they can’t get an IUD unless they’ve already given birth. Luckily, this isn’t the case.

So where does this myth come from?

Some healthcare providers used to believe that IUDs are linked to considerably greater risks of infections, expelling the IUD (having it fall out), and infertility. Today, however, the data overwhelmingly suggest that there’s no elevated risk of infertility among those with IUDs. Women who have never given birth are not more likely to have the IUD fall out.

Getting an IUD inserted can be a little bit painful. While most women who have not given birth before can get an IUD without difficulty, some women may need a little extra help. This is because a woman’s cervix (part o the uterus) increases in size after giving birth. Sometimes a healthcare provider will give the woman a medication to help dilate (open) the cervix so that the IUD goes in more easily. This process can lead to some cramping that usually goes away within 24 hours or so.

If your healthcare provider has advised you not to get an IUD because you haven’t been pregnant, it may be worth having another conversation with them, or finding a different provider who is more aligned with the clinical guidance of the day.

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