Copper IUD Pros and Cons: Benefits Vs. Side Effects

  • Author Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D.
  • Publish date

Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD), also called a intrauterine coil, is an intrauterine device that contains copper.

A non-hormonal type of IUD, a copper IUD is a small flexible T-shaped plastic that has copper wrapped around it. It’s used for birth control measures and is the most effective amongst all IUDs out there, with an annual failure rate of 0.7%.

The primary mechanism of copper IUD is to prevent fertilization of eggs in the uterus. Copper is known to kill the sperms and prevent it from reaching and mating with the eggs.

Benefits of Copper IUD

A contraceptive in its truest sense, copper IUD is placed in the uterus and can be left in the uterus for 10 to 12 years.

It can be used by women of all ages, regardless of previous parenthood. Removal of the copper IUD can help in getting the fertility back on track in no time.

Some of the benefits of copper IUD include:

1. Very effective

Copper IUDs are very effective and have been found to have an annual failure of less than 1%.

2. Lasts for a long time

Copper IUD can last for nearly 10 to 12 years.

3. Safe for nursing mothers

Copper IUDs are safe for use even if you are nursing.

4. Need not stop your regular medications

Placement of copper IUDs does not require you to stop your regular medications.

5. A better alternative

Copper IUDs are a better alternative for all those who do not want any hormonal IUDs. While hormonal IUDs have progestogen, copper IUDs are free of all types of hormones.

6. It does not require anything specific to be done

Once you have inserted copper IUDs, the only thing required is the checking of the thread after your periods. You only need to make sure it is still in place.

7. Quick removal

Copper IUDs can be taken out at any time by a trained professional.

8. It does not affect fertility

You can get pregnant as soon as you remove the copper IUD.

9. The best option for emergency contraception

Copper IUDs is the best and most effective mode of emergency contraception.

Side Effects of Copper IUDs

Like any other device, and despite the claims of its manufacturers, copper IUDs have shown to have few side effects.

A study conducted by researchers has shown that copper IUDs can be troubling for both the clinician as well as the user.

Some of the common copper IUDs side effects include:

1. Expulsion

A copper IUD can sometimes be spontaneously expelled out from the uterus. The expulsion rate ranges from 2% to 11.5%.

Some possible signs of expulsion include cramping or pain, unusual vaginal discharge, spotting between periods, dyspareunia, postcoital spotting, or lengthening or absence of strings. An MRI helps in determining whether the IUD has been expelled.

2. Cramping

Many women complain of having cramps or pain during the insertion and/or immediately after that. This is due to the dilation of the cervix during the insertion process.

3. Perforation

Sometimes, very rarely, the IUD can travel through the uterine wall. Perforation risk is dependent on the skill and experience of a medical practitioner who performed the insertion.

Well experienced medical practitioners report 1 perforation per every 1000 insertions. Perforations can result in damage to the internal organs, and in severe cases, require surgery for removal.

4. Heavier periods

Copper IUD can increase the blood flow in women during their menstrual period. The chances of increased blood flow are around 20% to 50% after insertion.

5. Infection

Insertion of copper IUD can pose a risk of a pelvic inflammatory disease in the first three weeks of insertion. It can result from preexisting infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

6. Spotting or irregular bleeding

Within the first few months of insertion, copper IUD can result in either spotting between periods or irregular periods.

7. String problems

A minuscule portion of men have reported feeling the strings during the intercourse. This calls for trimming of the strings.

The catch here is that short strings do not help the woman in checking whether the IUD has been expelled.

8. Pregnancy

Although a rare side effect, but women have reported getting pregnant even after the insertion of copper IUD. If pregnancy happens despite copper IUD, then it can result in serious complications.

In Conclusion

While copper IUDs are very effective, but it is prudent to discuss with your doctor first whether you are an ideal candidate. Being safe and knowledgable is much better than being sorry later on.

About Author
While copper IUDs are very effective, but it is prudent to discuss with your doctor first whether you are an ideal candidate. Being safe and knowledgable is much better than being sorry later on.
About author
Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D.
Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D.
The author, Dr Kimberly Langdon is a University-trained Physician (OB/GYN) with 2 decades of clinical experience and has delivered over 2000 babies to Central Ohio Mothers.

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