Birth Control Options
It has become almost second nature for modern women to take daily birth control in order to avoid pregnancy. The birth control pill used to be one of the few available options, but in the past few decades, many more choices have become accessible.
About two years ago, I started to take a birth control pill, but I soon realized it was not the right choice for me. Birth control pills tend to affect my sensitive stomach negatively, so I started looking for an alternative. I also didn’t like the way the hormones in the birth control pills were affecting my mood and overall well-being. I knew I couldn’t stay on them for the long haul.
What Is Paragard?
Paragard (intrauterine copper contraceptive) uses copper to prevent male sperm from reaching and fertilizing the female egg. It is an IUD that is placed in the uterus and starts working right away without affecting your menstrual cycle at all.
Why I Decided to Try Paragard
I had heard about Paragard before, but didn’t know exactly how it worked. The more I researched and read about it, though, the more I felt this was the only choice for me.
I loved that it contained no hormones and was very low maintenance with only an insertion that would last for up to 10 years. I wouldn’t have to think about it every day or remember to take it. It just seemed like the perfect option for someone who wasn’t able to take the daily birth control pill daily that was filled with unnecessary hormones. Plus Paragard is over 99% effective, which is higher than any birth control pill. It also has only had one active ingredient—copper—as opposed to the many artificial hormones in the birth control pill.
I also really liked the fact that this IUD wouldn’t affect my monthly period. I really hated how I would get a “fake” bleeding every month when I was on the pill. It just didn’t seem natural or healthy. With Paragard, I would be able to ovulate and get my regular period just like I used to before I ever started taking birth control.
This option was starting to sound better and better to me.
I Started Reading Reviews
Before making an appointment with my gynecologist to have the Paragard IUD inserted, I decided to read some reviews online of women who had used the device themselves.
I know you’re supposed to take the reviews with a grain of salt, but I couldn’t help noticing all the negative ones. Then I thought to myself that it was usually the people who had the most negative experience with a medication that would take the time to write a review. Those who had a great experience were too busy living their best lives to be writing reviews on the internet. At least that is what I thought at the time.
What the Reviews Said
There were a few things that stood out to me in the reviews I read about Paragard. The first one was the pain involved with the insertion of the IUD into the uterus. Many women seemed to describe this pain as “unbearable” like the most painful cramp you can have during your menstrual period. Others went as far as to say the pain was even worse than childbirth! Yet other women wrote that the pain at insertion was not that terrible and could be better managed if you took a few Tylenol tablets or other pain relievers before coming to your appointment.
Another common issue that women seemed to have with this IUD was how much heavier and more painful their period became after they had it inserted. The cramps seemed to worsen after having the IUD, and many women reported having large blood clots during their period, which they never had before.
In the past, it used to be that only women that have given birth were given the go-ahead to get IUDs. This is due to the changes the uterus goes through in the childbearing process that make it a better environment to house an IUD.
Nowadays both women who have given birth and those who haven’t are encouraged to try IUDs. The Paragard especially is a popular option for all women because of its non-hormonal content. I noticed in the reviews that many women who had previously given birth reported the insertion process to be not as painful. I don’t know exactly if it was because their pain tolerance was higher because they had given birth or if the uterus really did go through enough changes during birth that it made the whole process easier. Some women who had not given birth reported the process as excruciating painful while others said their uterus simply rejected the IUD and it would basically slide down from the spot it used to be in the uterus to so much further down where it wasn’t properly functioning anymore. No, it didn’t literally fall out, but it did slide down far enough to be deemed ineffective.
My Insertion Appointment
The day for my Paragard IUD insertion came, and I prepared by taking two 325mg Tylenol tablets half an hour before the appointment. I was preparing for the worst after reading all of those reviews online—but to be honest, it really wasn’t that bad.
Read More From Patientslounge
I think much of the experience has to do with how comfortable you are with your doctor. I had an amazing doctor at the time who was always patient with me and made me feel like my thoughts and concerns were heard. There was a slight discomfort when the IUD was inserted, much like a cramp that lasted maybe 20 seconds and then that was it.
Afterwards, I was told I might have some spotting so I should wear a pantyliner for a few days which I did. I didn’t have extreme cramping after insertion, just a tenderness in the area. I took a few more Tylenol the day of the insertion, but I had little to no pain or discomfort otherwise. I wore a liner for the next few days in case there was light spotting. I was told to take it easy with physical activity for the new few days. Other than that, the whole insertion process was really not as horrible as I expected.
Timing of the Insertion
Personally, I have never given birth so my insertion could have gone much worse than it did. It has also been suggested that it’s better to have the IUD inserted on one of the last days of your period because your uterus is more dilated at this time and it makes the process less painful.
I was probably on the third or fourth day of my period when the IUD was inserted, which might have made the process a lot less painful. I only recommend getting it inserted on the tail end of your period where you are barely bleeding at all. So since I got the IUD inserted during the last few days of my period I had it inside for almost a month before my next period. You are always warned that the first six months of your period will be heavier and more painful with the Paragard, but then it should slowly return to normal after that.
My First Period
My first period with the Paragard was pretty rough. I had more cramps than I have ever had before in my life. I was also bleeding a lot heavier than I ever have, with blood clots that were probably larger than a quarter in size. I remember taking a lot of Tylenol and having my period last seven to eight days, when it normally would only last four to five. I was prepared for this and knew that this was what I signed up for. It was difficult, yes, but if that was the worst of it, I could definitely handle it.
Follow-Up Appointment and Second Insertion
About a month after insertion, you have a follow-up appointment with your gynecologist to make sure the IUD has remained in place and is therefore effective. You are supposed to check the strings of the IUD every week to make sure they are still there.
When I checked mine, they had been there, but when I had an ultrasound done to check the placement of the IUD, it showed that it had moved further down and was not in the original spot where it had been placed.
My gynecologist decided to remove my IUD and insert a new one in case the first one wasn’t inserted correctly.
The second time around was much like the first. I had that one long cramp and then it was over. Light spotting for a few days and then another month to wait until a second ultrasound.
Unfortunately, the second ultrasound a month later revealed the same results. This IUD had also moved further down my uterus and was in danger of not being effective.
It was obvious my body was rejecting the IUD and it was not a suitable birth control option for me. My gynecologist took the IUD out for the last and final time and I was sent home to recover. I had some light spotting for a few days but felt well overall.
I was a little disappointed that I was not able to use the Paragard IUD as my birth control option. Now I was left with the responsibility of finding a new way to prevent pregnancy since having children was not part of my plan.
Some Women Experience Copper Toxicity
As I did more research on the Paragard, I discovered that many women also suffered from copper toxicity after using the IUD for a few years. It was later brought to light that the Paragard IUD was not as harmless as it was advertised to be. Having a device inserted into your body for 10 years can cause a lot of damage to your uterus. Some women reported uterine perforation while others needed surgery because the IUD had grown into their uterus during the many years it was inserted. Copper toxicity seemed to be a major issue among women that had the Paragard IUD. By definition, copper toxicity results from chronic or long-term exposure to high levels of copper. It is a serious health problem that can even lead to death.
Blessing in Disguise?
In the end, I think it was a blessing in disguise that the Paragard IUD did not work out for me. The more I learned about it, the more I was glad my body choose to reject it so I wouldn’t have to deal with more serious health issues further down the road.
Over the past two years, I have looked into more natural ways to prevent pregnancy. With the help of the Flo App, tracking my cycle has been made easier. I’m also not putting any hormones into my body, nor am I inserting foreign objects such as IUDs.
What you choose as your form of birth control is entirely up to you. As a woman, it is a very personal choice that only you can make for yourself. The best advice I can give is to do what’s best for you because in the end, only your body and mind will suffer the consequences.
Learn More About Copper IUDs
- Copper IUD (ParaGard) - Mayo Clinic
A copper intrauterine device offers a hormone-free option for long-acting, reversible birth control.
- Copper IUD: Side Effects, Cost, Review vs. Hormonal IUDs - Self
The copper IUD has pros and cons compared with hormonal IUDs, including how it works, side effects differences, cost, and more. Learn more about the copper IUD if you want a nonhormonal birth control option.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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