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Copper IUD - Common Questions Answered

Published on Apr 01, 2019 and last reviewed on Aug 19, 2022   -  4 min read

Abstract

A copper IUD (intrauterine device) is a type of preventive measure for birth control. It is non-hormonal and used for long-term contraception.

Copper IUD - Common Questions Answered

What Is an Intrauterine Device?

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a birth control device that is placed inside a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. It lasts for up to three to 12 years, and is one of the most effective methods of birth control, and, depending on the type, has a failure rate of about 0.1 and 2.2 % after one year of use.

There Are Two Types of IUD -

  • Hormonal IUD - Contains copper.

  • Copper IUD - Contains hormone progestogen.

What Is Copper T?

An intrauterine device with a T-shaped plastic body with copper wrapped around its stem is called a copper T or intrauterine coil. It is used as a birth control method and can also be used as an emergency contraceptive if inserted within five days after unprotected intercourse. It can be used by women of all ages, irrespective of any previous pregnancies. If the individual decides to get pregnant, fertility returns quickly after removing the device.

How Does Copper IUD (Intrauterine Device) Work?

Copper IUD works by affecting the sperm and preventing them from fertilizing the egg. It is believed that copper increases the levels of copper ions, prostaglandins, and white blood cells in the uterine and tubal fluids, thus acting as a spermicide.

It also affects the transportation of eggs in the fallopian tube and also changes the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for an embryo to attach and grow.

How Effective Is Copper IUD (Intrauterine Device) as Birth Control?

Copper T is one of the best birth control methods available because there is no chance of making any mistake. It is not a pill, so you do not have to remember to take it every day. Once you get a copper IUD, depending on the type, you will have 24 hours of protection every day for three to 12 years, which is 99 % effective.

How Effective Is Copper IUD (Intrauterine Device) as Emergency Contraception?

Copper T, if placed within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected sex, is almost 99.9 % effective in preventing pregnancy.

How Is Copper IUD Inserted?

It can be inserted at any time during the menstrual period, but the best time is right after the period. The cervix is softest during this period, and the chances of the lady being pregnant are less. The doctor will take a thorough history to know if you have any risk factors for infections, and he or she will conduct a physical examination.

During the day of insertion, the doctor will determine the position of the uterus and will hold the vagina open with an instrument called a speculum. Then the cervix and uterus are stabilized, and the IUD is placed using a narrow tube. Short strings attached to the device hang down from the uterus to the vagina. This string is used to ensure that the device is in place later and allows easy removal by the doctor.

What Are the Advantages of Copper IUD (Intrauterine Device)?

A copper IUD (intrauterine device) is one of the most advisable, safe, and effective ways to prevent birth control.

  • They are 99 % effective.

  • It can be used for up to ten years.

  • No need to take any pills.

  • It can be used while breastfeeding.

  • You can get pregnant quickly after you get it removed.

  • It is comparatively less expensive, as you do have to spend anything apart from the time of insertion.

What Are the Side Effects of IUD (Intrauterine Device)?

Some of the side effects are:

  • Perforation - In rare cases, while inserting the IUD, it can perforate the uterus wall and damage other internal organs. Surgery is needed to remove the IUD.

  • Infection - In the first 21 days after insertion, there is a risk of developing the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The chances of PID increase with the presence of infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

  • Expulsion - In 2.2 to 11.4 % of users, the copper IUD can spontaneously be expelled from the uterus. The signs of possible expulsion are abnormal vaginal discharge, cramping, abdominal pain, spotting, pain during sex, and lengthening or absence of the strings.

  • Cramping - Due to dilation of the cervix during insertion of the device, most women have pain and cramping.

  • Heavy Periods - Most women experience heavier periods after inserting the device. There is approximately a 20 to 50 % increase in menstrual bleeding, which is one of the leading reasons for IUD removal.

  • Spotting Between Periods - In the first few months after placing the IUD, some people experience irregular bleeding and spotting.

  • Pregnancy - The rate of ectopic pregnancy is high with IUDs (intrauterine device). If pregnancy occurs while using IUD, there are more chances of miscarriage and early delivery.

  • Problems With the Strings - Some men report feeling the string during sex. In such cases, the string is trimmed a little, but then it makes it difficult for the women to check for signs of expulsion.

When Is Copper IUD (Intrauterine Device) Contraindicated?

Copper IUDs are not recommended for the following women:

  • Pregnant women.

  • Women with untreated cervical or uterine cancer.

  • Women who have unexplained vaginal bleeding.

  • Women with uterine abnormalities.

  • People with multiple sexual partners because of the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

  • Women with copper allergy.

  • Pelvic infection patients.

  • Wilson’s disease patients.

  • In cases of pelvic tuberculosis.

What Are Frameless IUDs?

A frameless IUD does not have the conventional T-shaped plastic frame which makes up the body of the IUD. This change was made to reduce the side effects like expulsion and discomfort after insertion.

Do Copper IUDs Prevent STDs (Sexually Transmitted Disease)?

No, a copper IUD is only a birth control method and does nothing to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). So it is advisable to use condoms and avoid multiple sexual partners to prevent getting infected.

Conclusion -

Always talk to your gynecologist while choosing a birth control method. Depending on your condition and other factors, the doctor can help you choose the best birth control method. You can post queries and book real-time video consultations online to consult a doctor.

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Frequently Asked Questions


1.

Why Is Copper IUD Associated With Heavy Periods?

Copper IUDs are associated with heavy menstrual bleeding and painful cramps because of vascular changes. However, it subsides within a period of three to six months after insertion.

2.

What Is the Efficiency of Copper IUD?

Copper IUDs are by far one of the best contraceptive methods available and have an efficiency rate above 99%. Efficiency depends on the type of copper IUD used, with older ones being less effective. The failure rate of copper IUDs is less than 0.8%.

3.

What Is the Longevity of Copper IUD?

The longevity of the copper IUD depends on the type used; nevertheless, it ranges between five to ten years. They can be removed when needed, which adds to the advantage rather than contraceptive surgeries, which are irreversible.

4.

How Long Is Bleeding Present After Copper IUD Insertion?

It is usual to experience spotting after a copper IUD insertion, which may last for three to six months. Also, after copper IUD insertion, the menstrual periods are heavy and prolonged.

5.

How Is Pregnancy Prevented in a Copper IUD?

Copper IUDs prevent conception by thickening the cervical mucus and altering the uterine lining and fluid in the fallopian tube by the release of copper ions. This, in turn, makes the uterus uninhabitable for the sperms; thereby, sperms lose their viability to fertilize an egg.

6.

When Can I Have Intercourse After Inserting a Copper IUD?

It is advisable to have sex only after 24 hours of having a copper IUD inserted. In the case of using tampons or having a bath, the same should be followed.

7.

Is Copper IUD Effective Than Hormonal IUD?

Copper IUDs are effective in the sense that they last long, can be employed as an emergency method of contraception as they start their function within 24 hours, and no hormones are involved. On the other hand, hormonal IUDs use hormones, do not last long as copper IUDs, and are not recommended in patients with cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, pelvic infections, etc.

8.

When Should Copper IUD Be Removed?

Copper IUDs have varying lifespans depending on the type. It is usually employed for ten years, after which they should be removed to prevent infection.

9.

How Long Do Copper IUDs Take To Start Functioning?

Copper IUDs start to function as early as 24 hours, whereas hormonal IUDs take about seven days to be effective.

10.

Is Copper IUD Painful?

Pains and cramps are increased during menstruation with copper IUDs in place. If there is increased pain in your copper IUDS during the other days of the cycle, it is advisable to consult with the doctor as it can occur with misplacement of the intrauterine device.

11.

Can Copper IUD Result in Weight Gain?

As the copper IUDs do not contain hormones, it does not increase your weight. But, it can cause other adverse effects like increased bleeding and cramps during menstruation.

12.

What Should Be Avoided After Getting a Copper IUD?

Involving in sex, using tampons, swimming, and bathing should be avoided for the next 24 hours after getting a copper IUD.

13.

Does Copper IUD Cause Harm to My Body?

Copper IUDs do not cause any potential harm to the body except for the irregular bleeding and increased cramps it produces during the menstrual cycle.

14.

Is It Normal to Feel the Presence of Copper IUD?

Copper IUDs can be felt when a finger is inserted deep into the vagina or during sex, which is absolutely normal and indicates that the copper IUD is in the correct place.

15.

What Occurs Following Copper IUD Removal?

After the copper intrauterine device is removed, it is normal to experience mild cramps and spotting.

16.

Does the Copper IUD Produce a Smell?

Copper IUDs usually do not produce any malodor; if it occurs, it is an indicator of infection, which needs medical attention.

17.

Is Discharge Associated With Copper IUD?

Discharge is associated with copper IUDs when there is an infection, and prompt medical intervention is needed.

18.

Do Copper IUDs Produce Copper Toxicity?

Unless and otherwise, you have a liver disorder characterized by an inability to process copper, intrauterine devices do not produce toxicity of copper.

19.

How Can We Detect Pregnancy With a Copper IUD?

Although it is unlikely to conceive with a copper intrauterine device if it occurs, the symptoms are similar to normal pregnancy. They can be detected with the help of a urine pregnancy test.

20.

Is It Possible to Conceive With a Copper IUD?

The chance of conceiving with a copper IUD is less than 1%. If the intrauterine device is misplaced, it cannot prevent pregnancy.

21.

Can Copper IUD Stop My Period?

Copper intrauterine devices do not hinder ovulation, and so it does not interfere with the regular menstrual cycle rather than increasing the flow and cramping associated.

22.

Does Having a Copper IUD Give a Negative Pregnancy Test?

Copper IUDs do not produce negative pregnancy results. If you suspect pregnancy and get a negative test report, it is likely to be negative.

23.

Can Copper IUD Induce Acne?

Copper IUDs are not associated with acne bursts like hormonal IUDs because they do not employ hormones in providing contraception.

24.

When Does My First Period Occur After Getting an IUD?

After placing copper IUDs, periods may be irregular for the first three to six months, which will later return to normal. In addition, there will be spotting in between periods.

Last reviewed at:
19 Aug 2022  -  4 min read

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