A woman in her 20s has gone into “labour” despite not being pregnant after she had a contraceptive Intrauterine Device (IUD) inserted.

An IUD is a small, T-shaped, flexible device made of plastic and copper that is inserted into the uterus for birth control purposes.

The device prevents a newly conceived baby from implanting in the uterine lining (endometrium) of the womb[1] and “constantly releases a small amount of copper into the uterus.”[2]

A nylon string tied to the end of the IUD hangs down through the cervix into the vagina. The woman checks the IUD is still in the womb by feeling the string. The string is also used by the doctor to remove the IUD.

According to a Nine news article, Holly Smallwood, who is from the United States, experienced a “very rare complication” when the copper contraceptive device pressed on a nerve.[3]

Holly said the procedure led to the “most physically traumatic 45 minutes” of her life.

In a viral clip posted to TikTok, she said her gynaecologist warned her she would likely  experience some cramping for up to 10 minutes following the procedure.[4]

She was feeling “weird” when the nurse checked on her five minutes after the procedure but she was told to wait a little longer and things would calm down.

“Within the next five minutes all hell broke loose,” Holly said. “My extremities went numb, I couldn’t feel my legs, I couldn’t feel my arms, I’m sweating profusely, she’s helping me take my sweatshirt off.”

“Then I felt something I’ve only ever heard of in movies. I don’t even knew how I knew – but I was having contractions.”

“The doctor peeks in and she’s like, ‘Oh we gotta take this out now’,” Holly said.

The doctor performed an “emergency extraction” and explained to Holly that the IUD had been pressing on a nerve which had ‘sent her into labour’.

“My body was trying to push it out. So I was multi-centimetres dilated, I don’t remember how many… I was fighting for my life,” Holly said.

“She said I would already have had an epidural by then if I was pregnant.”

To learn more about the risks of using an IUD, check out our Truth Pack pamphlet online or contact us to receive physical copies: https://www.fli.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/IUD-Feb-2014.pdf

Some of the other side effects include; heavy, long and/or painful periods; spotting between periods; pelvic inflammatory disease which can lead to adhesions, scarred fallopian tubes and infertility; risk of septicaemia (infection that has entered the bloodstream); perforation of the uterus and spontaneous abortion in pregnancies subsequent to IUD removal.


[1] https://www.fli.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/IUD-Feb-2014.pdf
[2] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-intrauterine-devices-iud
[3] https://honey.nine.com.au/parenting/woman-goes-into-labour-without-being-pregnant/bc433857-41a6-4d11-9a0c-85bd51a3555a
[4] https://www.tiktok.com/@hollyyywood_/video/7173788929072811310?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1&item_id=7173788929072811310
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