What is the ParaGard® IUD?
The ParaGard® IUD (IntraUterine Device) is a copper-releasing device that is placed in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is effective for up to 10 years. It's made of white plastic in the shape of a “T” and has copper wrapped around the stem and arms of the “T”. Two white threads are attached to the stem of the “T”. These threads are the only part of the ParaGard® IUD that you can feel when it is inserted into your uterus.
Although the ParaGard® IUD is effective for 10 years, you can have it removed at any time and it's contraceptive action is immediately reversed. You may try to conceive anytime afterwards. It is very effective in preventing pregnancy and less than 1 in 100 women become pregnant each year while using it.
Who should not use the Paragard IUD?
You must not use the ParaGard® IUD if you currently have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) or engage in sexual activity with multiple partners, or if your partner has multiple partners. The IUD should only be used by women who are in a very stable long-term relationship with little possibility of contact to a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The ParaGard® IUD is also not an option for women who might be pregnant or who have a uterus that is abnormally shaped inside. If you have had an infection following a recent pregnancy in the past 3 months then the ParaGard® IUD should not be used. The same is true if you developed a uterine infection following an abortion in the past 3 months. Also, if you have cancer of the uterus or cervix, have unexplained bleeding of the vagina, have an infection in the cervix, have an allergy to any component of ParaGard®, or already have an IUD in place, then you should not use the ParaGard® IUD. Finally, since the ParaGard® IUD contains copper, if you have Wilson's disease, you should not use it.
The ParaGard® IUD does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases, and in fact, may worsen an STD if you are exposed.
Your physician can place the ParaGard® IUD into your uterus during an office visit. You will need to be up to date on your Pap tests and will have to have an appointment specifically for the placement of the IUD since it takes a bit of preparation for a successful placement. Assuming you are not allergic to aspirin or ibuprofen, you should take one of these products approximately 1 hour before the procedure to decrease the discomfort. Your doctor may prescribe a medication for you beforehand to minimize any discomfort that is associated with placement.
For insertion, you will be positioned in the same way as when you have a Pap test. The cervix and vagina will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution to decrease any risk of contamination of the IUD from vaginal bacteria. Next, he may give you a numbing injection into the sides of the cervix to reduce the possibility of pain, depending upon your anatomy. He will use a thin metal instrument to measure the interior length of the uterus so that the IUD can be setup correctly. The IUD is slid through the cervical canal and is positioned at the top of the uterine cavity. He will trim the strings of the IUD so that they do not hang out of your vaginal opening. For follow up, plan on returning after your next period and he will check the placement of the IUD and trim the IUD strings to the appropriate final length.
Once the IUD is in place, it will be your responsibility to check for the IUD strings after each menstrual period. This will confirm that it has not become dislodged or expelled.
Side Effects of the ParaGard IUD
The most common side effects of the ParaGard® IUD are heavier and longer periods for a few months after placement. Some women also have spotting between periods. For most women, these usually lessen after a few months. If your menstrual period is severe or prolonged, please call our office for an evaluation.
You should also call our office without delay if you miss a period because this may indicate that you are pregnant. You will need some testing to evaluate this further.
There may be a slightly increased risk of a pelvic infection for the first 2 weeks after the IUD is inserted. You should monitor your symptoms during this time and call our office if you show any signs of a fever, vaginal discharge, or increasing pelvic pain.
Some serious complications that have been associated with IUDs, including the ParaGard® IUD, are pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), perforation of the uterus, expulsion (where the contraceptive falls completely or partially out of the uterus), and difficult removals (where the contraceptive becomes stuck in the uterus and occasionally requires surgery to remove it).
You should call our office if any of the following occur:
- Think you are pregnant
- Have pelvic pain or pain during sex
- Have unusual vaginal discharge or genital sores
- Have unexplained fever•Might be exposed to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Cannot feel ParaGard®’s threads or can feel the threads are muchlonger
- Can feel any other part of the ParaGard® IUD besides the threads
- Become HIV positive or your partner becomes HIV positive
- Have severe or prolonged vaginal bleeding
- Miss a menstrual period