Copper IUD

THE BASICS

What is it?

Copper IUDs are T-shaped plastic devices wrapped in copper. They are less than an inch and a half wide and long. A doctor inserts the IUD into your uterus through the cervix. This takes just a few minutes.

Copper IUDs can prevent pregnancy for 10 to 12 years.

How well does it prevent pregnancy?


A very effective form of birth control — one of the lowest pregnancy rates of all birth control methods.

Less than 1 out of 100 women using ParaGard get pregnant in a year of use.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

This type of IUD works mainly by interfering with sperm movement and egg fertilization. It may also prevent implantation.

WHAT ARE SOME PRODUCT NAMES?

ParaGard is the only copper IUD sold in the United States.

PROS

  • Very effective birth control.
  • Long-lasting — 10 to 12 years.
  • Hormone-free.
  • Safe if you can’t use birth control with estrogen because you:
    • Are a smoker over 35
    • Have an increased risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or venous thromboembolism) or stroke
    • Have had serious side effects from estrogen
    • Have coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or lupus
  • Safe if you are breastfeeding.
  • Sex can be spontaneous.
  • Mostly private. (Some partners do feel the IUD strings inside the vagina.)
  • Reversible. Can be removed by a doctor at any time if you want to try to get pregnant. Rapid return of fertility after IUD is removed.

CONS

  • Some women have heavier or longer periods or more cramping with their periods.
  • No-go with some health issues:
    • Active pelvic inflammatory disease
    • Unexplained heavy vaginal bleeding
    • Allergy to copper
    • If you or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you’ll need to delay getting an IUD until treatment is complete.

POSSIBLE CONCERNS

Possible problems include:

  • Some spotting and cramping right after IUD insertion. Tell your doctor if pain is severe or doesn’t go away.
  • A small risk that your uterus may expel a copper IUD. This happens to about 6 in 100 women in the first year and about 11 in 100 women within 5 years. If it happens, you could get pregnant.
  • A small risk of infection after insertion of an IUD.
  • Very rarely, insertion of an IUD punctures the uterus. This may require surgery.