ParaGard® is a brand of contraceptive intrauterine device, or IUD. It is shaped like a “T” and is composed of several lengths of copper wire that make the environment inside the uterus inhospitable to sperm, therefore blocking egg fertilization. The device also has two monofilament strings that aid in its detection and removal. Once placed, the ParaGard IUD stays active and does not have to be removed for up to 10 years.
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The ParaGard IUD prevents pregnancy without the need for drugs or barrier methods. It is ideal for women who have contraindications to hormonal contraceptives or who are looking for a long-term, reversible form of contraception. Unlike condoms, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
For safety, the ParaGard IUD must be placed inside the uterus by a physician, and the best time to do so is at the beginning of menstruation. The cervix is somewhat dilated at this time, and menstrual bleeding is a highly accurate indicator that the patient is not pregnant. Once the device is inserted, some patients experience mild cramping. It may also make menstrual discharge heavier.
The ParaGard IUD can be used for as long as 10 years and may be removed by a physician at any time. Adverse effects or the wish to become pregnant are typical reasons to do so. Removing the IUD is much easier than inserting one, and the steps are similar to the tasks performed in a normal gynecologic exam. The doctor identifies and grasps the strings from the IUD, removes it and then discards it. Some women experience a mild amount of discomfort while the IUD is being removed, but most people don’t feel anything.
If any symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding or cramping occurred while the IUD was in place, those symptoms should resolve once it is removed. Additionally, once the ParaGard IUD is removed from the uterus, it is possible to become pregnant.