The copper IUD sold in the United States under the name Paragard is a highly-effective, hormone-free method of birth control. An IUD is a plastic, T-shaped device that is inserted into and removed from the uterus by a health care provider. Paragard works to prevent pregnancy by releasing copper ions in the uterus; the copper prevents sperm from reaching the ovaries. It is important to remember that Paragard, like many methods of birth control, does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
According to its manufacturer, DuraMed Pharmaceuticals, Paragard is over 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Unlike other methods of birth control there is nothing to do or remember when on Paragard. You can use Paragard for at least to 10 years. Studies such as one conducted by the United Nations Development Programme and noted in December 1997 in the journal "Contraception" indicate that it is safe and effective for as long as 12 years. You can also use Paragard as emergency contraception if insertion takes place within 120 hours after unprotected sex. Because Paragard contains no hormones, you can use it even if you are unable to use birth control containing estrogen.
Paragard and Weight Changes
Weight changes associated with the use of other methods of birth control are often related to hormones. Because Paragard does not contain hormones, you are not likely to gain or lose weight as a result of using it, notes the Paragard website. If you are trying to lose weight, Paragard use will not interfere with this. If you experience significant, unexplained changes in weight, you should speak to a health care provider.
Paragard should not prevent you from engaging in physical activity. If you are experiencing increased menstrual cramping from Paragard, exercise may help to reduce pain and discomfort.
Answers to Common Questions
You will not feel Paragard inside your body. During intercourse, your partner may feel the thin plastic strings that go past your cervix into your uterus, but users report that this is not painful or uncomfortable for either partner.
You should not use Paragard if you have a current pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID infection, or are at high risk of acquiring PID. While Paragard may cost you more up front than other types of birth control, over time, the cost of use is much lower. You may experience cramping, light bleeding between periods, heavier periods and stronger menstrual cramps while using Paragard, but these often subside with time.