Access to IUD removal: Data from a mystery-caller study

Jennifer R. Amico, Chiara Heintz, Ariana H. Bennett, Marji Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: This study describes access and barriers to intrauterine device (IUD) removal appointments in 10 mid-sized cities in the United States. Study Design: This mystery caller study utilized a sampling frame of health centers in 10 mid-sized cities gathered from 3 search engines. We gathered data about the timing of the next available appointment, the requirements for additional appointments prior to IUD removal, and the out-of-pocket cost. We used descriptive statistics to describe the availability and cost of IUD removal visits, and compared results between primary care clinics and family planning or gynecology clinics. Any additional information regarding why a visit was not available or other requirements for IUD removal that was provided to the researcher was also recorded. Results: Of 229 clinics included for analysis, 60.7% could offer an IUD removal appointment to the mystery caller, and the majority of these could provide an initial appointment within 2 weeks (61.2%), with a median of 10 days. Of clinics offering IUD removal, 17.3% required more than one visit before removing the IUD, and 43.2% confirmed that IUD removal would occur at the first visit. Five clinics (5.6%) reported that they would not remove an IUD that was not placed at their clinic. Sliding scale fees were offered at 16.3% of clinics. For the clinics that cited an out-of-pocket cost and did not offer sliding scale fees, the median cost of the IUD removal was $262, with a range of $50 to over $1000. Neither appointment availability nor cost differed between primary care and family planning or gynecology clinics. Conclusions: Overall, timely IUD removal appointments were available at the clinics we sampled, but both financial and clinic policy barriers to IUD removal were documented, including the need for multiple appointments and the total out-of-pocket costs. Implications: In our current climate focused on improving access to IUDs, it is essential to address and reduce barriers to IUD removal when desired, in order to preserve reproductive autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-129
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Cost
  • Discontinuation
  • Intrauterine device
  • Mystery caller

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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