Copper Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
What is an IUD?
- It is a type of birth control.
- It is known as a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) method of birth control.
- There is only 1 IUD with copper. It is called Paragard®. It can stay in your uterus for up to 10 years. It will keep you from getting pregnant.
- Some people who use a copper IUD get heavier or longer periods than they had before.
- Paragard® can be used for emergency contraception too.
- You may be able to get pregnant right away after an IUD is removed.
- Your provider can help you choose the right IUD for you.
A copper IUD might be a good choice if you:
- Want contraception that is very effective at preventing pregnancy.
- Do not want or cannot have hormones.
- Such as if you have deep blood clots in your legs.
- Do not want to be on a birth control that could stop or lessen your period.
- This will not stop your periods. You should not have bleeding or spotting when you do not expect it.
- The exception is if you have heavy or painful periods. Paragard® can make these worse.
- Want birth control for at least 1 year. It will last up to 10 years.
Paragard® IUD benefits are:
- It works right after it is inserted.
- Less than 1 in every 100 people who use it get pregnant during the first year of using it.
- It is very safe.
- You do not need to take birth control daily.
- There are few side effects.
- It does not have estrogen.
- You can take the IUD out when you want, if you want to get pregnant.
- If you use an IUD for many years, it can cost less overall than many other types of birth control. There is no costs after you have it put in.
The downsides of an IUD are:
- It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)." Only condoms protect from STI’s. Your partner should still use a condom to protect against STIs.
- It can make periods heavier and cramping worse. Many people notice their period is heavier. They often have more cramping. This is the biggest reason some people have it taken out.
- Very rarely it will come out by itself (expulsion). You need a new IUD if this happens. Call your provider if you are worried that it has come out.
- The first cost is higher than the cost of other methods. Many IUDs are covered by insurance.
- Only a provider can put it in. IUD’s are often taken out by providers in the clinic.
If you become pregnant while using an IUD:
- It is very unlikely, but you can get pregnant.
- Take a urine pregnancy test if you miss any periods or feel like you may be pregnant. If you have a positive test, call the clinic right away. Your provider needs to see you as soon as possible.
After Paragard® is put in:
It may take some time for your body to adjust as you get used to hormone-free protection. Right after it is put in, you may feel:
- Pinching and cramping
The first 1 to 3 months, you may have:
- Irregular bleeding, such as random spotting to bleeding like a period
- Intermittent cramping
You will be offered a follow up appointment about 6 weeks after the IUD is put in.
After the first 3 months:
- Your body should be used to the Paragard®. Each person is different though. If you have questions or concerns, talk with your provider.
- Your periods can be heavier and you can have more cramping.
Checking your strings:
- Paragard® is designed to fit comfortably and stay inside your uterus.
- Do a monthly string check after each period stops.
- Do this by placing your finger in your vagina. Feel for your cervix.
- The strings should feel like a single piece of thread on the cervix.
- Make an appointment with your provider right away if:
- You think the Paragard® has moved.
- You can no longer feel the string.
- Use backup birth control if your strings are missing. Do this until you see your provider.
Paragard® does not protect against STIs or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Use a condom with new partners or if you are concerned about being exposed.
Call your provider if you have:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Severe abdominal pain
- Temperature of 100.4 degrees F (38.0 degrees C)
The Obstetrics Gynecology Clinic at 319-356-2294 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For urgent questions or concerns
- Call toll-free at 800-777-8442, 24 hours a day
- Ask for the gynecology resident on call.
- You may be asked some questions when using the toll-free number.
Send a MyChart message for non-urgent questions or concerns.