An intrauterine device with a T-shaped plastic body with copper wrapped around its stem is called copper T or intrauterine coil. It is used as a birth control method, and it can also be used as an emergency contraceptive if it is inserted within five days after unprotected intercourse.
Intrauterine device (IUD) is a birth control device that is placed inside a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. It lasts for up to 3 to 12 years, is one of the most effective methods of birth control, and depending on the type have 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.
An intrauterine device with a T-shaped plastic body with copper wrapped around its stem is called copper T or intrauterine coil. It is used as a birth control method, and it can also be used as an emergency contraceptive if it is 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, then fertility returns quickly after the device is removed.
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 egg in the fallopian tube and also changes the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for an embryo to attach and grow.
Copper T is one of the best birth control method 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 3 to 12 years, which is 99 % effective.
Copper T if placed within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex, it is almost 99.9 % effective in preventing pregnancy.
The advantages are:
It can be inserted at any time during the menstrual period, but the best time is right after the periods. 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 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 if the device is in place later and to allow easy removal by the doctor.
Some of the side effects are:
Copper IUDs are not recommended for the following women:
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.
No, copper IUD is only a birth control method and it does nothing to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). So it is advisable to use condoms and avoid multiple sexual partners to prevent getting infected.
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. To consult a doctor, you can post queries and book real-time video consultations online.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Copper IUDs start to function as early as 24 hours, whereas hormonal IUDs take about seven days to be effective.
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.
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.
Involving in sex, using tampons, swimming, and bathing should be avoided for the next 24 hours after getting a copper IUD.
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.
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.
After the copper intrauterine device is removed, it is normal to experience mild cramps and spotting.
Copper IUDs usually do not produce any malodor; if it occurs, it is an indicator of infection, which needs medical attention.
Discharge is associated with copper IUDs when there is an infection, and prompt medical intervention is needed.
Unless and otherwise, you have a liver disorder characterized by an inability to process copper, intrauterine devices do not produce toxicity of copper.
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.
The chance of conceiving with a copper IUD is less than 1%. If the intrauterine device is misplaced, it cannot prevent pregnancy.
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.
Copper IUDs do not produce negative pregnancy results. If you suspect pregnancy and get a negative test report, it is likely to be negative.
Copper IUDs are not associated with acne bursts like hormonal IUDs because they do not employ hormones in providing contraception.
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:
10 Apr 2019 - 4 min read
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