The Pros and Cons of the Copper IUD (ParaGard)

Copper IUD or ParaguardThe copper IUD or coil (ParaGard) is a non-hormonal method of birth control. Its main advantage over hormonal methods is that it contains no contraceptive drugs and therefore permits natural, ovulatory cycles.

Pros of the copper IUD:

The copper IUD permits normal, healthy ovulation, and that’s a good thing because ovulation is how women make hormones.

👉 Read The secret powers of ovulation (it’s not just for making a baby).

It’s more effective than almost any other method, with a failure rate of just 0.6 percent.

After insertion, you don’t need to do anything or take anything, and it lasts up to ten years.

Fertility returns to normal as soon as you remove it.

It’s the most popular method of birth control in the world.

It has the highest rate of user satisfaction of any method.

It is suitable for women of any age, including teenagers and women who have not yet had children.

It’s effective as emergency contraception.

Cons of the copper IUD:

You might have to pay. The device itself costs about $150 (one time cost), but your insurance may cover it.

Insertion can be painful. To manage pain your doctor may use a local or general anesthetic, or may simply ask you to take a painkiller before your appointment. One woman described IUD-insertion this way:

“It’s like a PAP smear test but a little weirder and more uncomfortable.”

IUD insertion is an in-office procedure that takes just a few minutes—it’s not surgery.

It may cause cramping for a couple of weeks after insertion and more pain with your periods. More than 30 percent of IUD-users report more period pain at first, but then find that it reduces over 12 months.

It will probably make periods heavier and could cause spotting between periods. Copper IUDs increase flow by 20–50 percent for the first 12 months after insertion. Heavy flow can be managed with ibuprofen and natural treatments.

It’s bad for the vaginal microbiome and doubles the risk of bacterial vaginosis.

It might come out. Risk of expulsion is highest during the first month following insertion (5.7 percent), and then decreases to 2 percent per year. Signs of expulsion include pain, spotting, and the absence or lengthening of the string. A new “frameless” IUD called GyneFix (available in Europe) is easier to insert and has a lower risk of expulsion.

It might cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), but only if you have a pre-existing infection with gonorrhea or chlamydia. That’s why your doctor should screen for those common conditions before inserting an IUD.

Dark memory of the Dalkon Shield. A badly designed IUD in the 1970s caused 18 deaths and thousands of complications for its 2.8 million users. The problem was the string of that particular IUD, which was multifilament and grew bacteria. Modern IUDs have a safer design and carry no significant risk of infection.

It carries a small risk of uterine perforation, which could lead to surgery. Perforation occurs in 0.1 percent of users (1/1000) but is more likely if you are breastfeeding.

It might cause copper excess. The amount of copper potentially released from a copper IUD is small compared to the amount we obtain from foods such as dark chocolate. Nevertheless, some IUD users report anxiety and attribute it to possible copper toxicity. There’s very little research (like so many things in women’s health) but one study did find that IUD users have higher serum copper compared to non-users.  Copper excess is more likely to be a problem if you are deficient in zinc, so your doctor may want to test your zinc and copper levels before inserting an IUD. Users of hormonal birth control also have higher serum copper but for a different reason. Synthetic estrogen causes the body to retain copper. (IUD-induced anxiety could also be a vagal nerve response to the IUD or the string.)

If and when you want it out, you will need to see your doctor. In theory, you cannot remove it yourself, but actually many women do successfully manage self-removal, and one study found “little health risk from a woman removing her own intrauterine device”.  The authors go on to say that IUDs would be more popular if women had the control to remove them.

Your partner might feel the string, but probably won’t.

It doesn’t protect against STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

The bottom line about the copper IUD or ParaGard

The copper IUD does not contain contraceptive drugs or suppress hormones and is one of the few non-hormonal methods of birth control currently available.

Dr Lara Briden

144 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of the Copper IUD (ParaGard)”

  1. From what I’ve read about painful insertion – comparing it to uncomfortability or a pinch – is far from my experience. I think many doctors underestimate the pain some get. I had no anesthetic offered. I’ve broken many bones and would consider my pain threshold high. Although only 5 minutes – it was excruciating. I screamed and swore. I burst into tears at the end. Then my body went into shock. I had severe cramping while also needing to poo. I vomited for 20 minutes and fainted. I was curled up for days and still have cramps a week on. That’s been my first week experience. But insertion the only word I could associate is traumatic. I am 42, have not had children, was not on my menses for insertion nor had pain relief

    • This sounds miserable! I’m wondering if it is positioned too low in your cervix. Maybe your doctor would do an ultrasound to check? I have had the Paragard for 11 years, but had those symptoms for about 5 minutes once when I think my menstrual cup suctioned hard around my cervix, maybe interacting with the IUD too? Excruciating, worse than early labor (I don’t know about later labor, I had an epidural. But this was FAR worse than my unmedicated labor to 5 cm). I hope you can get this resolved because it sounds awful.

    • It is because you have not had children. I was the same, I ended up consuming 10 ibuprofins, 10 tylenol, alcohol, and having a heating pad to deal with the pain and even that didn’t eliminate it.

  2. Dear Lara

    Thank you so much for this post, too! I just love your whole blog. I am being here for hours honestly.

    I wanted to love the copper IUD. I got it inserted 6 month after the pill but got horrible back pain that just wouldn’t improve. I got it removed after 1.5 years.

    Is it possible that your body has to make up for the time you where on birth control? For me it is like experiencing “ovarian puberty symptoms” with 23, after taking the pill from 15-21 years old. The symptoms include acne that I had before the pill, irregular long follicular phase and long periods (45-60 days), mood swings and elevated androstenedione. As for the fasting insulin and glucose test; I do not have insulin resistance.

    It would be so interesting to know that. And what can woman (if this is a thing) do for it? Just sit your “late puberty” out?

    Thank you so much for your insight and your generous information!

    Love and best wishes,
    hope you are well,


  3. I willbe honest I absolutely hate the idea of having a piece of wire going up there. In 2021 I would assume there would be something better than this for women. Anyway I been taking mini pill for about 2 weeks and not only I got my next period its the worst period of my life. Never had so much pain. Im gonna go for an ultrasound just to see whats going on but in the meantime has anyone experience this? I thought I would never have any period again?

  4. I had the copper IUD for 3 years and it caused me a lot of grief. I not only experienced longer, heavier periods and spotting in between periods, but also intense cramps at various times in my cycle. My lower abdomen felt constantly inflamed and I ended up developing IBS. Furthermore, I had fibroids and ovarian cysts. 6 months post-removal, I feel remarkably better. I believe the side effects of this device are seriously under-researched and under-represented.

  5. Hi Dr. Briden,
    I have had a paragard for over 5 years. Overall I think it’s great but my periods have become long and heavy. That in itself doesn’t really bother me. However what does bother me is that I have been spotting more and more between periods. It used to be just once per cycle usually a few days after the end of my periods. Now I am spotting almost every day. I am 36 years old. My cycles are usually 27-32 days long. Per my conventional doctor, there is nothing wrong with me. No hormonal problems. No fibroids. No perimenopause. Can an IUD cause spotting? Or do you think I may have some underlying hormonal issues that my doctor wasn’t able to figure out. Any pointers? Thank you!

  6. Never seen a woman go manic from a chocolate bar like they have this iud (sarcasm, but seriously) sad that is what compared to. Paragard has over 300 mg of corroding *metallic* copper wire doesn’t it? Do we know the PH of every woman’s vagina ? Not the same as eating a food that also contains other Nutrients and minerals and is not straight corroding copper. And I believe (might be wrong) there is a difference between bio unavailable copper, right?
    Basically this is not a biocompatible material to begin with and it is being put in women for the sake of killing sperm. Comparing it to a price of chocolate is two completely different things and undermines the impact this has had on women. If you are suffering from this please seek out a medical professional who is versed in this and understand copper toxicity.

  7. I had the copper iud. It destroyed my life. I became beyond ill most likely from copper excess. It is very dangerous. Please don’t recommend it. You can call me if you would like me to tell you about it, 1-218-464-7611. I know not everyone experiences it but enough of us have to make it very very dangerous.

    Thank you,

  8. hi there! thanks for the helpful article. i would ask that you please change the second to last point about your partner feeling the string, from “but he probably wont” to “but they probably wont” to be more inclusive of all types of loving sexual relationships. all of us make slip ups like this, but to be more inclusive it would great if you make this edit. thank you 😊

  9. I’m personally pretty unhappy with my paragard experience. Insertion was painful, and cramping from it lasted a few days after the procedure.

    I paid just over 800 USD out of pocket as I have no health insurance, not the measly 150 you claim (and this was at a reduced price based on income!!)

    After only 10 months, my device had moved down I to my cervix. I was told at my removal appointment by the doctor I saw that while it’s not COMMON, that kind of movement and/or expulsion is 7-10% risk, which is a lot higher than you claim as well.
    Unfortunately, if it moves, it has to be removed. It’s no longer effective (paragard relies on placement for effectivity) and greatly increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy as well as increasing the risk for perforation.

    The IUD had no impact on my periods.

    Sadly, I’m not fortunate to be able to justify 800 dollars for a piddly 10 months of coverage. I thought I was making a decade long investment. Turns out I screwed myself over and ended up with no recourse and we’re back to relying on condoms for bc until I can save up for something else.

  10. Hi Dr. Briden,

    I have been looking at your articles and may have inflammatory pcos. What birth control do you recommend? My gyn suggested taking it out due to some issues. I have had the paraguard for 3 years since Sept 2016. My issues with are recurring bv, yeast infection and anemia (periods are heavy and last more than 5 days). Currently taking iron supplement. I lost 25 pounds last year and finally have “regular 28-32 day monthly cycles. I do still suffer from acne and Hirsutism. My gyn suggested a hormonal iud to treat these symptoms but I’m afraid the hormones will mess with my weight and add to my current depression and anxiety. Does the paraguard cause long periods? ( more than 7 days, i know it increases flow) or is that the pcos? Should i try supplements to treat my PCOS symptoms and immune system? Thank you!

  11. Hi Lara,

    I had my copper IUD inserted in early 2015 and have been very happy with it!
    I was told at the time of insertion to have it removed in 2020, but I’m looking online to see if I can keep it in for longer… It seems that there is no harm leaving it in longer than recommended and there doesn’t seem to be risks. Do you know?
    I’ll be ready to have babies in another 2-3 years, so I’m not quite ready to remove it yet. The insertion process was very painful for me though, so I’m not overly excited to get a new one put in if needed.

  12. It’s definitely the zin-copper balance. My trichologist suggested supplementing with OptiZinc to balance it out and stay away from supplements that contain copper.

  13. Hi Lara, I know this is an older article, but I have a question for you that touches upon this and so many other topics where you’re so well-informed.
    I lost my period for about 3 years (during which I was first vegan and then paleo). I wasn’t on birth control during this time; it was more related to PTSD and disordered eating/exercising patterns. I have now been vegan for a year, and a pescatarian for a year prior to that. My periods have returned, as my bodyweight has increased and I’ve worked on my stress levels (though my cycles are 5 weeks instead of 4). I got a copper IUD end of July this year. Since then, I’ve had skin issues – acne a bit on my face, a LOT on my back, impetigo, and eczema. I’m 27 and have never had skin trouble before.
    I was wondering if you think there might be a zinc-copper thing at play here. I had my heavy metals tested last year, and copper was elevated, but not worrisome. But when I apply zinc skin creams or take zinc orally, things seem to improve…

  14. Hi Laura!
    I am considering going on the copper IUD soon. I had my second, and last baby, about 8 months ago and am not ready for the time commitment of using the fertility awareness method at this point. My partner and I absolutely do not want any other children, but also do not want to use any hormonal methods. Additionally, I like to keep our environmental footprint down, so I would not want to use condoms. I am still breastfeeding and noticed that there is a higher rate of expulsion of the copper IUD if breastfeeding. Should I wait until I completely wean her, until I get my first bleeding, or how would you recommend going about this? Additionally, after reading Joanna’s March 9 comment, should I also be taking some supplements or altering my diet to get ready for ultimately using the copper IUD? Thanks for your help!

  15. I’ve decided that I’d like to remove my Mirena but am now concerned about my body’s response to the sudden removal of the hormone. Do you have any thoughts on any ‘rebound’ effects?

  16. I am 24 and haven’t had any children. I had the copper IUD inserted about 5 months ago. My periods are fairly normal compared to what they were before birth control. The insertion process was a little painful because they had to dialate my cervix, but it wasn’t nearly as painful as my cramps are now. I had pretty bad cramps before, but now my cramps are debilitating. It hurts so bad that I want to throw up and then curl up and die. Haha. My doctor says that it is normal and that there is no perforation, so if I can stand the pain, it is okay for me to keep it in. I haven’t noticed any other side effects, other than possibly a little bit of hair loss. A friend of mine had the same kind of pain and definitely had hair loss because of the IUD. She had hers removed after a year. I’m not sure if I want to put up with the pain for that long…

    • I forgot to add that the cramping has kept me up all night a couple of times and pain pills don’t seem to work. I don’t want to take more pain pills so I just ride it out. When I say debilitating, I mean debilitating. It’s terrible when I have them while I’m out and about during the day because I can’t lie down and curl up to help relieve some of the pain. Sitting and walking don’t help. I’m not really sure why I’m telling you this because it affects everyone differently. I guess I just needed to tell someone.

  17. I got a copper IUD put in about 4 months ago. It hurt a little at the time of insertion, a little cramping that evening and the next few days as well as at the time of the subsequent two periods. I feel my periods have mostly gone back to a relative normal although I find there is murky discharge for a few days either side of my period. I barely have anymore cramping at all and find it’s the easiest contraceptive. My partner and I feel it during sex on occasion but its not an issue. I paid $116 for it I think through my GP. Great so far for my situation, for a 20-something woman before children.

  18. Hello, Any chance of copper IUD giving Melasma? My melasma getting worst and only thing changed is I tried Marina last year first then swiched to copper iud in July 2018 but Melasma is still spreading on my face 💔Thanks 🙏

  19. My daughter developed severe anxiety from the copper IUD which resolved when it was taken out. Truly is was awful and deeply affected her life. I want other women to know this can happen. So glad we figured it out before she was put on meds.

  20. I’ve had a copper IUD for 5 years now, insertion was actually pretty chill (my doctor advised me to take 2 Aleve prior to the visit). I haven’t had any problems until recently, I’m experiencing the microbiome disruption. Its time to change it anyway.. My periods have been up and down, sometimes really heavy and other times normal, I haven’t had a problem with cramping other than a few times (I never really got cramps before either). Overall extremely happy with it. Curious about the Ballerina now if it is said to reduce microbiome disruption.

  21. Well said. Thank you for making us understand various pros and cons of iud.
    Was very helpful blog. Keep up the good work.

  22. My experience with the copper IUD wasnt terrible but kind of horrible ,I got it after my daughter was born a few months later and I was scared of getting pregnant again for the fourth time so I got the IUD.The insert process was kinda painful like a quick stab to the uterus and little cramping.My periods were regular and this device made them irregular and my period were heavy and migrane type of pain.I noticed I got more moody and I would skip a month of period so like February I would get it for 3 to 4 days and than skip March and get it in April.I had it in for 6 months and I could not stand it.Every time I peed it smelled like copper.I told my doctor and she said let me check you for a bacterial infection and everything came out fine but ai started notifying a fishy or cloudy type of smell like 3 months after I had it taken out.Got checked again and still nothing .I never had a fishy or cloudy smell even once until my IUD was taken out.I do not recommend it.I have not got pregnant since than its been 4 years and no baby so it does work but messed up my cycle and maybe my uterus.I would also get clear discharge once in a while and like stingy type liquid coming out my vagina after my period or before randomly.

  23. Patiently waiting for gynefix to be available in the United States. It seems it is easier and faster to buy a ticket to get gynefix in the EU than to wait for something that may never arrive. I talked with the inventor and he is very nice and informative. Is it available in Canada?

  24. Hi there,

    I recently went through quite an ordeal after discovering I had become pregnant with the copper IUD in place. I’d had it for two years and had been sexually active for the first year with no problem, was celibate for the second year, and met my boyfriend this summer and became active again. After a week or two of very tender breasts and a general concern for being pregnant, I took a home test which was positive. That day, I went to my women’s health clinic, had an US (confirmed gestational sac), and then a visit with the OBGYN. She removed the IUD, which had slipped into my cervix (lower than where it should sit), and sent me on my prego way to return in two weeks for a follow-up. I want to point out that I had the IUD for a reason…I do not want children. Now, after making my ultimate decision, I am searching for a new BC option, which is difficult because I am wholeheartedly opposed to using hormones. For one, I almost had a stroke using the combo pill several years ago and two, I had terrible mood swings on the Pro-only pill, as well as debilitating acne. I have considered fertility awareness methods and condoms, but am wary of FAM, despite knowing I would be diligent, and of course condoms can be a buzzkill in the moment. After weeks of making difficult decisions, I wish there were an easier answer to my question of: which BC method is right for me? Any help is greatly appreciated!

  25. Hi there,
    Thank you for the balanced discussion on this method. It’s something I’m considering as an alternative to the pills. I’ve been on Orsythia for nearly two years and have had no significant problems, though problems aren’t totally absent. The first day I started taking them, I experienced severe anxiety. I was also on a prescribed antidepressant then, Cymbalta, and decided that day that one of the pills had to go. I didn’t want to get pregnant, so the antidepressant got voted off the island. I never had such severe anxiousness again, so I do believe that it was the combination of the two that caused it. However, I’ve wondered if that was only my body’s reaction to the hormones and would’ve been the same without the presence of Cymbalta. Either way, it doesn’t matter: I’ve overcome that bout of depression with concentrated efforts and never took psychotropic drugs again. Point being, that was the only time birth control pills effected my mood. Beyond that I’ve experienced plenty of dryness and pain during sex in addition to a low sex drive. These things are linked to hormonal birth control and have inspired me to seek out other options. To think that the pill could be altering my body’s chemistry so much is troubling. Starting them was a sudden descision as my partner refused to use condoms and I’m too young and naive to do a baby justice, so I jumped to the first solution I’d heard about and stuck with it. In every other aspect of life, I’m a naturalist, and I’d like to steer clear of hormonal methods from now on. I see a lot of women on here reporting unplanned pregnancies and other horrible complications, but feel this may be a result of other factors in their lives. In regards to what I’ve told you, about how my emotions are now generally stable, I have no health problems, and have never had a child before, do you think I would experience any of these complications? I’m only 20 and don’t want any babies sneaking up on me. But I want to do the best thing for my body and don’t want to learn any of this the hard way. 🙂 Thanks so much for your mission and guidance. We all appreciate it!

    • I’ve been using a menstrual cup with IUD and had no problems. However, my gynecologist warned me that about 5 women in their practice had actually pulled their IUD’s out when removing the menstrual cup. My IUD strings are very soft now and always really tucked up around my cervix, so it would be pretty tough for me to accidentally do that, given where the cup sits. But it’s probably good to be careful and always break the suction first when you pull out the cup.

  26. Hi Dr. Lara,
    Would you suggest an IUD for me AfterHaving an ovary removed because of chocolate cyst.
    Im 50, still have my periods and dont want to have a full hysterectomy. I have a large Fibroid in uterus and cyst in other ovary.
    My doctor has me taking progesterone 100mg capsules. I stopped taking them before surgery and dont think I want to take them anymore. ??
    Loved your articles and forwarded them to my surgical doctor and homeopathic doctor.
    I bought a bunch of herbs today for endo, for inflammation and autoimmune help. And going on strict diet – no caffeine, sugar, alcohol, dairy and more.
    I really want to feel better and get back to my healthy lifestyle.


  27. I would personally love to use the FAM method but I have PCOS and have been told by my naturopathic doctor that FAM is not reliable for me so I have the copper IUD. Currently after changing my diet and taking supplements like inositol and chaste tree my periods are regular and have been for about 9 months. Would FAM method be a reliable option now for me?

    • Your doctor might be misinformed about what FAM is. With most modern fertility-awareness-based methods (FABMs) of birth control (such as the Sympto-thermal method, cervical-mucus-only methods like Creighton and FEMM, and the Marquette method) fertile days are determined by symptoms, not by cycle length and estimating where ovulation falls. That means the effectiveness is not affected by the regularity of the user’s menstrual cycle.

      Following the rules of some methods (including the most clinically effective ones) will be easier with more regular cycles, though, especially if you rely on abstinence during the fertile period or are not a fan of using barriers during a large part of your cycle. If you’re still interested, and especially if you’re suffering from IUD side effects, definitely look into FABMs.

  28. I had 2 successive implants whilst studying at university, I became terribly depressed after 4 years. I then tried the copper Iud as I thought the implant was linked to how i was feeling. It was inserted by my GP and it was extremely painful, she needed to use forceps to pull my cervix forwards and the pain and bleeding lasted about 2 weeks. Anyway after a month to let it settle I had the implant removed, however my anxiety did not improve despite moving home and changing jobs a few months prior.
    For a few months i had a lot of achey pains, pain during sex and very irregular periods (2 in 8 months). One day when the pain was particularly bad I felt the coil was sticking out through my cervix, it had become dislodged and had to be removed in hospital. I was then diagnosed with polycystic ovaries.
    So, next I started FAM using the natural cycles app, I found it hard to get consistent temperature measurements due to shift work. One unplanned pregnancy and miscarriage later (the app that month was sure I ovulated on the 15th, date from scan put ovulation 2 weeks later, on a green day) I decided to try POP. Within 2 weeks of starting all my depression and anxiety symptoms came straight back.
    After researching the daily dose of pill vs implant I have now got my 3rd implant (nexplanon) in situ. Already i have noticed dry mucous membranes but at least my mood is improved.
    I am going travelling for the next year or so with my partner but when I’m settled after we return I plan to start a family.
    Any suggestions for FAM with shift work and highly irregular cycles for when i return from travelling?
    (also our drinking water is from a spring and the land is naturally high in copper, plus I have a mild skin allergy to zinc, so i do not want to try another copper iud)

    Any thoughts or advice greatly appreciated.

    • Using Natural Cycles while doing shift work? Yikes! I doubt even Natural Cycles themselves would recommend that, and they are kind of known for questionable marketing. Temperature-only methods are treacherous even for women with regular sleep schedules, because they don’t have a reliable way to detect the beginning of the fertile window. If practicing FAM with irregular cycles OR a wacky sleep schedule, it’s extremely important to understandand chart cervical mucus.

  29. I have never been comfortable with hormonal birth control. The one time I tried it, it only took me a few days to notice differences in my body that I wasn’t happy with. Everyone said, “There are so many different kinds, just try something else!” But that one experience with the pill taught me something important – my hormones do a whole lot more than regulate fertility.
    For the first three years of my marriage we we’re religious condom users. But every time I went back to my OB’s office during my second pregnancy, I was surrounded with literature suggesting that I didn’t need to put up with such an inconvenience – there were “newer”, “better”, “more effective” ways.
    And I fell for it.
    Four months ago I received the Paragard – I was thrilled. This amazing, practically side effect free (as I am still nursing and consequently haven’t had to deal with menstruation) little gadget was amazing!
    As time went on, I noticed reoccurring BV – did a little research. Common side effect not covered in the literature. Okay, well no problem – boric acid capsules for me seemed to do the trick. And then another month went by.
    I began to notice increased levels of fatigue, and chalked it up to nursing a baby twice a night. The following month this fatigue was becoming debilitating. I met with my PCP to treat a sinus infection. Maybe that was causing the fatigue. We treated it and still, I was more tired than ever.
    At this point I began to notice some familiar and uncomfortable syptoms – at several months postpartum, I’d thought I’d escaped the miserable sentence of PPD that I’d experienced with my first child. By November my anxiety and depression was so bad that I was having difficulty functioning despite already being on the highest dose of antidepressant that I could take – which had been enough to solve these issues when I had had them after my last pregnancy.
    My fatigue increased over the month of December and my depression began to scare me. I began having panic attacks, a thing I hadn’t experienced since before I was medicated for depression and GAD at the age of fourteen. Ten years ago.
    By the time I met with my PCP to discuss a change of medications, it was a week before Christmas and our insurance had changed. We were paying an arm and a leg for this appointment but considered it necessary. My doctor did a gene swab to find out which medications my body would react to best and discussed his concerns that I might be bipolar. We talked about a whole range of medications that could be added to my routine.
    It is now Friday, January 5th. My family is extremely concerned about me, and I’m having a difficult time meeting the most basic stressors. Since I haven’t heard back from my primary care provider yet, I’ve been making a lot of phone calls.
    Yesterday I experienced the most difficult day I have ever had. Despite having sent the kids to their grandmother’s house, I spent my time in panic, depression, anxiety, fear, and tears.
    That night I looked at the time table of events and began to wonder about this supposedly hormone-free method of birth control.
    My husband agreed that many of these symptoms lined up perfectly with the date I got the IUD inserted.
    I now have an appointment to get this thing removed on Monday. Weather or not it is the cause of all my woes, it is worth ruling out before running the entire gambit of psychotropics to treat an apparent mental breakdown.

    My question for you is this – if this is copper toxicity (a thing the mainstream medical community denies to be possible) where do I begin treating it?

  30. Hi! I really appreciate this article but as someone who had just about the worst case of copper toxicity from this iud, I’d like to say comparing this to chocolate is extremely innacurate. This iud is a super reactive metal in its purest form. I’ve never had a problem eating chocolate or any food with copper, but this iud nearly made me a paranoid schizophrenic. I’d just like to add my 2 cents and clear that up from someone who struggled first hand with this.

    • Thanks so much for sharing. And, Yes, clearly some women do react badly to the copper IUD. I would love to see more research. It certainly could be the copper. I do also wonder if the presence of the foreign body in the uterus creates an adverse nervous system reaction in some women.

      • I don’t think so just because my symptoms started in 2 months after. I was happy with how it felt and everything up until then. I ended up with spinning paranoid thoughts that where out of control and anxiety that resembled OCD. It changed my personality. Like I would watch a movie and would be paranoid about every single character. I’d get anxiety and dark thoughts so bad my whole body would tense until my bones nearly broke. I think it’s what they say, copper building up in the brain. It’s a shame the only research is from the 80s and it’s blood testing.

        • I have had the same experience. Crippling anxiety and depression, panic attacks, insomnia, racing thoughts. This all started a month after receiving my Paragard. All other physical symptoms have been minor to non existent. But the mental side effects are so severe, I feel certain that I have copper toxicity issues and am having it removed tomorrow.

          • Do you feel better now that it’s been removed? I’ve been reading such horror stories about copper toxicity with the IUD, but scariest of all is many women feel those symptoms are often permanent :O

  31. UPDATES to my previous comment months ago:

    Hi Lara, Thank you for writing such wonderful posts! After getting a Paragard IUD in 2012 I suddenly gained 35 lbs in 3 months, and I’m an avid runner and have a strict diet (no dairy for 15 years!) I had the IUD removed two years later, because my body never adjusted to it – just the opposite, I began having Niagara Falls flows with HUGE blood clots, migraines every month, and severe cramps. I also had to urinate CONSTANTLY and urgently.

    I’m 34 years old now and several months ago I read another blog post about estrogen dominance and progesterone cream. I decided to start the cream on my own in May, and it has cleared up ALL of my symptoms! Even the constant/urgent urination! So, I take progesterone daily (no breaks) and I’m also taking DIM daily with magnesium/calcium.

    I started a keto diet (very low carbohydrate) and it’s literally the only thing that has helped drop the weight. I am only 10 lbs from being a “normal” weight for my height, and I’m lifting weights and running regularly and feeling more amazing than I have in the past 5 years.

    I hope this update helps some people. My personal experience was that I had to do progesterone cream every day of the month, non stop, and add some supplements, and do a low carbohydrate diet (of course it’s also lower calorie) in order to lose weight successfully after my body being totally destroyed by the Paragard IUD.

    I do believe I will need to taper down on the progesterone cream usage eventually, is that correct? I can’t find a whole lot of information on staying on it long-term. I guess I just assume that once I’m a normal weight and feeling healthy again, I’d be able to slowly remove it from my daily regimen.

    Thanks for any comment you may have!

  32. Hi,
    Thanks for posting an informative article!
    I was on the pill from 15-26 years old. I found a holistic doctor who taught me about tracking my own ovulation which I loved! While doing this I met my current partner and we used condoms as well as tracking. Unfortunately, I am the 0.1% where condoms didn’t work to prevent pregnancy.
    I am currently deciding whether to go back on the pill or try a Copper IUD.
    The pill makes me a bit crazy and gives me terrible mood swings and a really low libido.
    I like that the copper IUD is hormone free, but am worried about having a foreign metal body inside me for such a long time. Is it better the devil you know?
    It was really great to read some positive experiences (instead of just horror stories) and have a health expert think along the same wavelength as my own beliefs.
    Thank you 🙏🏼

  33. I’ve had a relatively good experience with the copper IUD.

    I had average-to-heavy periods prior to inserting my copper IUD 7 years ago, and have remained about the same, if not slightly heavier/longer. For me it was worth it because I wanted a no-brainer, non-hormonal, very effective method of birth control. It was post childbirth and the insertion was a piece of cake. They were telling me to relax and take deep breaths and I was like, is this supposed to hurt?

    I did develop a large ovarian cyst a few years ago and the doctor wanted to remove my ovary because of an admittedly unreliable blood test that could indicate ovarian cancer. Because of delays with health insurance I couldn’t get the surgery right away and saw my acupuncturist in the meantime. She gave me some herbs and the cyst resolved itself! I wondered if the IUD put me at higher risk for ovarian cysts, but don’t know.

    The only other possible negative symptom was severe cramping (like a childbirth contraction) after sex/orgasm, lasting 20-40 minutes. This happened probably only half a dozen times, but was very painful. I asked my NP about it and she insisted it had nothing to do with the IUD. I’m curious if anyone else has experienced this.

    Because my periods are somewhat long, heavy, and bothersome, my NP has pushed the Mirena. She insists that there is NO systemic hormone, which I know is not entirely true. I stuck with the Paraguard because it wasn’t that bad and I didn’t want to risk the cons of a hormonal IUD.

    Now, I am 45 and am just beginning to experience irregular periods (of course MORE frequent and heavier). I imagine this is perimenopause, although I haven’t experienced hot flashes, depression or severe mood swings (fingers crossed). In the last month, I’ve had only one week without bleeding. It’s been quite heavy, and is negatively affecting my life (can’t have sex, several leaking accidents, etc.) I don’t want to continue the next 5-10 years this way. So now I am considering the Mirena (or one of the other hormonal IUD’s).

    I just ordered your book, because I want to understand HRT in general and other possible methods of alleviating these heavy periods. Thanks for the resource.

  34. Hello everyone,

    I had my PARAGARD inserted about 2 month ago. they placed it in while i had my period so i felt no pain at alll.
    Periods are extremely heavy.. i change my pads 3-4 times every 2 hours at times, and when I wake up in the morning I have to rush to the bathroom because so much blood flows out that it just doesn’t get to be absorbed in the pad and starts pushing its way out .. sorry tmi. I have 3 kids and am in mid 20s so Im back full-time at school.

    My sister in law conceived with the PARAGARD ( copper IUD) and unfortunately babbyshower and all the baby stopped responding at 38 weeks. The fact I had to witness my niece being born.. coming out then turning blue, all medical staff coming in and out, watching the baby being tagged.. horrible thing. SORRY if this is too much but I’m just writing my experience i know many who succeed with IUD.

    Now, with all that said I just don’t agree with a Piece of plastic and copper being inserted inside me.. like thinking of the humidity and temperatures ? old blood getting stuck inbetween copper.. the acidity causing just bad stuff, idk what kind, but i been very anxious having this !!

    I also find it now in 2017 i have heard many recent cases of pregnancy with paragard that i would question the percentage rate they have today in age because it seems everyone is getting pregnant even with this… I’m doing my research and ran into this forum .. i may do FAM .. i had blood work done recently shows a little anemic has to be bc of the heavy bleeding.. i get spotting al the time. if this is link to anxiety .. I’ve been extremely anxious but what doesn’t cause anxiety ?? .. anyways .. just wanted to share my input .. god bless ladies

    • Funny u say u feel anxious because since I’ve had the paraguard, I do have more anxiety and crazy mood swings than before. I used to have the mirena but I switched it to paraguard in fear that planned parenthood would get defended, and my insurance expired not too long ago.
      Definitely heavy blooding and spotting between periods, but man I definitely do get very emotional. Idk if that’s because of the IUD or if that’s just because I’m on my period.

  35. I am 48 years old and peri menopausal. I would prefer to use the rhythm method but my system is kind of wacky these days so I have no idea when I’m ovulating. I had been fitted for a diaphragm a few years ago and (through much research) foud a non spermicidal jelly called contra gel to use with my diaphragm. Problem was, I just went in yesterday to my doctor for the second time to have the diaphragm removed because I couldn’t get it out. This time they had to destroy it to get it off. I don’t want to use hormones at all! They make me crazy! But I don’t want to get pregnant either. Condones are aweful and kill boners. :(. I have a history of heavy bleeding and crippling cramps. My cramps are not so bad these days though but the bleeding is crazy. I wonder if this would be a good option or if I should look into something else.

  36. I loved the copper IUD…until it failed! I am the 0.6% apparently. It migrated from my uterus to my cervix, and hello baby! Thankfully it has been safely removed and has not affected the pregnancy.

    It was great while it did work though, my only side effects were 1-2 days of period pain and heavy bleeding at the start of my period. And possibly some acne related to the copper depleting my body of zinc, but nothing that zinc supplements couldn’t fix.

    Not sure if I will get another one after we are finished with having kids or just stick with FAM.

  37. Hi Lara,
    I have had terrible luck with hormonal birth control methods – very anxious and depressive moods and episodes of rage, all within 3/4 months of being on the pill. Was definitely something I could not live with. That was when I was 17, and recently have decided to give the pill another go, mainly because I thought hormonal contraception was the only way to go about it, and I felt it would give me peace of mind in regards to worries about becoming pregnant. Again, it did not agree with me and all of the depressive and anxious moods returned. i have since stopped taking the pill. I do naturally suffer from bad pms/ possibly pmdd as well. Is there a way to combat this? These experiences have definitely put me off trying any other hormonal contraception. HOWEVER, I have been doing my research and have come across the copper IUD’s, and am very interested in the non-hormonal properties, but i was wondering if I am too young to use them? I am 18 years old.

  38. I began using the copper IUD when I was 21. I actually requested to have one put in at the time and thankfully enough I found a gynae that would fit one into a ‘young lady’ of that time.

    I am now 33 and just had my 3rd IUD inserted… it! I am a women’s and pelvic health specialist….if there are no contraindications or medical reasons why a lady cannot have one then I always advise for it……unfortunately Gynae’s are still not advocates and are administrating pills like smarties even with all the recent negative research that has been shown recently.


    • Thanks so much for chiming in and sharing your story. Particularly helpful as you are a physiotherapist specializing pelvic health!

    • I realise this is an old thread but @theonlyonephysio – have you had kids yet? My main issue with the iud is the possibility of it creating fertility issues post use – so would love to hear from someone who had one prior to having kids and continued on to have a healthy pregnancy later.

  39. Hi Lara. I enjoy reading your articles. They are simple yet very informative.
    I am surprised however how little attention you gave to the risk of copper excess.
    Chemically copper is a metal. When metal is put in acidic environment , it oxidizes. It means that in vargina (acidic environment) IUD constantly releases cations of copper that enter blood stream and then organs. Additionally if there is inflammation (for example due to body recognizing IUD as a foreign object ) , there is more acidity, more copper release.

    Serum measurement in not an accurate method of assessing ones copper status. It better to be done by mineral hair analysis.
    Copper also rises estrogen levels. This may explain heavier bleeding.
    Copper is an antagonist of the zinc. The more copper the less zinc available for the body. Zinc status is already low among Australian due to poor soil content. Vegetarians are even in higher risk.
    Zinc deficiency and copper excess is a very significant risk here.

    I had IUD for 1.5 years and I ended with severe copper toxicity, consequently disfunction of liver, thyroid and adrenal glands. 6 years of misery. I’d always advise against it.

    • Thanks for sharing your story. I certainly don’t dismiss the possibility that copper is a problem for some women.

  40. I’m going to university in a few months and I’m anticipating partying & stress & not a lot of sleep… with this in mind is it a bad idea to try to use FAM or the Daysy as my birth control? Would it be wiser for me to consider the copper IUD?

  41. Hi Lara,

    I used to have the Mirena for about 3 years after being inserted during a post-abortion procedure.

    I changed it to the Copper at planned parenthood because the Mirena wasn’t in stock, so I just went with the copper without much knowledge of either.

    I changed IUD’s because w/ Trump being president, and all of these drastic changes, I was afraid that contraception would soon not be available when my IUD expires, which was the Mirena at the time.

    It’s been about 2 months since I’ve had the copper IUD.

    Before I had and IUD ever, I used to have heavy periods, and now that I have the copper, my periods are now heavy again.
    About 7 days, starting from light to heavy on the 3-5, and light on the rest, with heavy cramping and heavy PMS.

    I’m 26 years old.

    And my concern is:

    does the copper IUD cause infertility?

    Reduce sexual arousal?

    Will it not make me want as much sex as I used to?

    Increase chances of cancer?

    Increase PMS?

    Make me more depressed while I’m on my period?

    Please respond and let me know.
    My insurance just expired, and it would be very helpful.

    Thank you,

    • The copper IUD does make periods heavier but it does not cause infertility or cancer or depression. It should not affect libido or sexual arousal.

      • It can cause depression. Copper can cause a host of physiological issues. I really wish doctors would LISTEN to women and the comments. There’s no reason not to have it listed on the side effects list if it’s being reported multiple times…. it’s in-humane

  42. Hi,

    I just wanted to share my positive experience with the Copper IUD as well 🙂 I had been using the pill and implanon in years before with all the negative effects associated. I’ve had the Copper IUD for about four months after looking for a non hormonal alternative for birth control.

    One thing I do want to flag was that medical professionals seem to all push for the hormonal IUD over the Copper. Having consulted many doctors none of them supported my decision to use the Copper IUD over the hormonal and pretty much all of them said I would end up wanting it taken out.

    Since having the Copper IUD I am the happiest I have been in years. Not to mention the cramping and heavy periods lasted a measly two months post insertion. Which is well worth it for the regards reeled of a non hormonal method.

    So just wanted to say don’t listen to your doctors who push you towards the hormonal IUD!!!

    • thanks so much for sharing your story. Is it ok that I add a mention of your comment in the post where I mention Joanna’s comment?

  43. Hi lara. Thanks for such helpful information. Definitely going to get hold of a copy it your book. I need some advice please. I am 43 years old and have 5 kids. The youngest is 3 months old. I took the pill about 20 years ago for a short period of time but have used condoms since. I don’t want any more kids and my doctor recommended the mirena. I wanted to do a tubal ligation but the thought of being cut is scary. All my kids were natural births. I have read both your articles on the copper iud and the mirena. Please advise me further. I have 10 day periods with heavy bleeding on the 3,4 and 5th days.

  44. I have my IUD insertion 6 mouths ago. First day was a little bit cramp. After that every thing is been good I am happy with my IUD. I was on the pill for 8 yrs and I was tired of that especialy mood change. Now I have my period every month a a little it heavy but, happy. A little cramp when period is going to start, nothing that I can not handle, 5 days period. Little bit discharge first moths, no infection.

  45. I just wanted to share my incredibly positive experience with the Copper IUD.

    My Background:

    I had always had irregular periods about 6 months or more apart. My periods went for 5 days and were on the heavier side. I got cramps, though not terrible ones. The Dr ‘diagnosed’ with PCOS at the age of 17, despite me not having any of the other hormonal symptoms usually associated with it. I was prescribed the Jasmin Pill to ‘regulate’ my periods.

    I developed poor memory anxiety, depression, lost libido, self-confidence and poor skin and hair. I thought it was just my own fault until one day at the age of 25 I linked it to the Pill. So, I got in touch with Lara to try and get me off the pill and free of PCOS naturally.

    Lara prescribed me some supplements (Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc being the main ones) and suggested I lay off dairy and gluten for a while to help regulate my cycle and reduce period pain. I did this for a few months and then went to get my Copper IUD inserted. I think I paid about $180 all up in Sydney to have this done.

    The IUD Insertion Experience:

    This happened at a fertility clinic. Apart from the Dr and nurse being in white cloaks, and the room feeling a bit more like a surgical theatre, it was actually a lot like a pap smear.

    They put the speculum inside to hold the cavity open, then then gave me a local anaesthetic. There was a quick sharp pain from the injection and then an odd feeling of localized pressure, but no more pain. They then inserted the IUD, it was enclosed in a sheath like a drinking straw. They pushed this up through the cervix, released the IUD and then removed the sheath.

    This process wasn’t very painful at all. It was like a bad period cramp that only lasted a second. Half an hour later they let me leave and I drove myself home. I did have some bad cramps about half way home and had to pull over. I would recommend getting someone else to drive you home. For the next few days I had occasional cramps, but these were very mild compared to a regular period cramp.

    Post Insertion Experience:

    I am happy to report that thanks to Lara’s advice and supplements I had my first regular period within 1 month of inserting the IUD. It has now been two years with the copper IUD and I have had no problems and my periods are working like clockwork.

    My periods come every 32 days, last 4 – 5 days and I hardly have any pain at all. (except when I stopped the Magnesium, Zinc and Iodine supplements for a while. These definitely help me with PMS, pain, and regulation).

    My partner can’t even feel the IUD or string at all during intercourse, and he has noticed an incredible uplift in my mood and libido since I went off the pill.

    The only drawbacks I would report is some bad cramping I once had after a very rigorous abdominal workout. It only happened the one time though.


    I feel very empowered to have full control of my body, my mood, and my mind again. I honestly feel robbed of years of my adolescent life where I wasn’t myself while on the pill. Finally, I am my old confident, emotionally balanced, and mentally vigorous self again. I wish I had known about the copper IUD and natural healing for PCOS sooner.

    I would recommend getting holistic health advice together with a copper IUD. I feel many of the often-reported side effects of a copper IUD, like cramping and period pain, can be related to other underlying causes such as nutrient deficiency’s in my case. Once this is addressed, the copper IUD can be an amazing thing.

  46. Hi Lara,
    Grateful for your advice I was recently informed by my doctor that copper IUD is being phased out in Australia? Is this correct?

    I’m currently looking at coming off the contraceptive pill and was researching between both the hormonal ans copper IUD.

    I was leaning towards the copper IUD but I don’t know if this doctor is just unwilling or is actually providing me with the facts.

    • Absolutely not correct. Wow. Not sure why a doctor would say that.

      For a positive copper IUD experience, please read Joanna’s comment on this same post. She posted not long after you, so should be just above this comment in the stream.

      • Hi Lara,

        Thank you for the quick response. I have read many positive copper IUD stores (similar to Joanna’s). I’m sad to hear I was misinformed by this doctor. Appreciate the update.

  47. As I am researching to decide between a copper or hormonal IUD I am happy to come across this article (and the following one you posted). My summary for context:
    – more than a decade on the pill
    – when off the pill to conceive amazed how wonderful it is to really feel my cycle (and libido!)
    – after 1st child was recommended Mirena – seemed good with less hormones than pill and no daily hassle
    – can’t remember ever having any problems with it, and
    – loved how the removal meant I was immediately ‘in the game’ again for a another baby
    – after 2nd child, informed about non-hormonal IUD
    – again happy, yes slightly longer and heavier periods, but manageable
    (some testing with diary free and gluten free made cramps less!)
    – the IUD needed replacement and was removed while test results are coming back I’m au naturel for a cycle (or two) I decide on my next contraceptive: hormonal or copper IUD.
    – just had a super light period which was a bit bizar, and also lovely – but not so much that I’ve made up my mind yet

    Now, new country, new OB recommending Mirena over copper IUD, claiming that at my age (43) my periods will get heavier [is that likely?] whereas I hope to stay artificial-hormone-free and rely on natural remedies instead of modern medicine where possible.
    My gut tells me to stick with copper and avoid hormones, but the advice from the doctor (who I selected because she lists natural healing as part of her practice) has thrown me off, and though I don’t shy away from menstrual pain [we were designed to go through this stuff] I also don’t want to set myself up for missed days of work and not being there for my family a day a month… But the prospect of NOT feeling or having my period at all scares me off equally, because I like to know what’s going on with my cycle and body.

    If you don’t hear from me, then I will have no new stories to tell and will be living happily ‘ever’ after with my copper IUD until menopause. So this post is a pro-copper post and soliciting responses from the slightly older ladies reading it 😉

    • hi Jessica, thanks for sharing your story. I don’t agree that your periods will definitely get heavier. Many women experience heavier periods during perimenopause, but some women (myself included) experience lighter and lighter periods. If that’s the case, then a copper IUD should be fine.

  48. Is it possible that the inflammatory process that occurs with the paraguard in order to prevent fertilization could spike more systemic bodily inflammation?

    • Hi Michelle, I asked Dr Fiona McCulloch about inflammation from the copper IUD. And I found her answer quite helpful, so I thought I’d post it here in its entirety. She says:

      “Yes the copper will create a local inflammatory reaction in the uterus, and it seems that the main way it works is by deactivating the sperm. so it seems to prevent fertilization, rather than acting primarily on implantation, which was how it used to be thought to work. It does appear to reduce implantation also, but it seems that the number of embryos formed in the first place are quite small.

      Inflammation is kind of seen as “bad” in online circles…but..I guess how I would answer this particular question would be: inflammation is only bad if it causes a bad effect. In many ways, inflammation is good and it’s key for many normal biological processes. The way that an embryo implants involves inflammation which would be a good example. The way the IUD works is to alter the natural process of inflammation that allows for implantation. There may be some of the same cytokines, but in different amounts, a different profile of them and at different timings.

      As an aside, I think some groups tend to view copper IUDs as more like an abortion because it is still (inaccurately) viewed as primarily stopping a fertilized embryo from implanting (rather than blocking fertilization which is their primary effect), but also it is used by abortion centers as emergency contraception.

      Unless there is evidence to show that this inflammation becomes systemic, it seems to exert effects locally (similarly to the hormonal IUD) due to the amount being released being quite small. I am sure there are some very sensitive people who may already have copper overload, though who may not feel well with this in.

      Since it’s been used for many years, with higher amounts of copper than are used now in IUDs, I think we would see some of these negative effects given long-term studies exist. I’ve seen some evidence that it may reduce endometrial cancer rates (possibly occur through some of these inflammatory effects or encouragement of shedding of the cells? hard to say how).

      When it comes to trying to conceive directly after removal, inflammation wouldn’t be as much of a concern…because if copper WAS still retained, the IUD would likely reduce fertilization rates on the first cycle (though not with any consistency depending on how much copper was still there locally) and often people have an idea they can easily conceive on any one cycle when really egg quality is the determining factor on that and a lot of it is based on a “good” egg being released by chance……but I would be a little concerned with any copper ions remaining in the uterus and getting incorporated into the decidua and placenta if the IUD was just removed and so I would definitely think it safer to allow at least a full cycle go by before trying to conceive.”

      • Thank you!

        The reason I was asking is that I’ve been having a hard time with multiple muscle spasms and strains when doing yoga x 1 year. My teacher suggested it was more than technique due to lengthy (or non) resolution time. He suspected systemic inflammation.

        I wondered if it could be my IUD.

        Via lab testing through an Integrative Medicine nurse practitioner, I’ve recently learned that low ferritin and vitamin D, and a gluten intolerance may be the culprits.

        I’ve not followed up with her yet, but understand that low ferritin can promote muscle spasm, and low vitamin d can cause muscle nerve hypersensitivity. Gluten intolerance may explain the inflammation.

        I have also been working with an awesome physical therapist and have felt improvement with just that already. Though he does agree with my yoga teacher about there being heightened inflammation (though they may not agree on the cause).

        Sharing in case it might help others asking similar questions.

        Thanks again.

          • Yes! Thank you! I read your book and have been taking magnesium, zinc, b6, taurine, vitamin E, and selenium per in the information in there. I do feel generally better when I take them. The ibuprofen at the start of menstruation recommendation was also very impactful. Cut my periods down from 9 to 5 days.

            My magnesium level was good. Copper was not high, but the Copper to Zinc ratio was 1.5:1, which she said could be contributing to inflammation. She has me on a slightly higher zinc dose to try and compensate. Also will try Vitex this month as I have PMS/weakness and tend to get hurt most often during the pre-menstrual and menstrual phases of my cycle.

            Anyway, thanks again! She was impressed with the supplement regimen that I put myself on after reading the book.

  49. I’ve had a copper iud for 4 years NEVER EVER EVER had a std of any kind and was just diagnosed with PID. doctor said it was because of the copper iud, I will now have both of my fallopian tubes removed because of scar tissue and will never have another baby, ALL because of a copper iud. I’ve had it regularly checked had 3 pap smears in that 4 years not one picked up any issues also had an abdominal surgery didn’t see an issue multiple ultrasounds for cysts on my ovaries, no issues found until a cysectomy that couldn’t be performed because of the scar tissue is what finally found it. All because of birth control I will never have another baby. This was not in the pamphlet I was given.

  50. Due to hormonal birth control methods making me suicidal and my husband unable to use condoms, I wanted a copper IUD. It took much research and demanding to find somewhere that would put an IUD in and here was my experience:

    I have never given birth and the insertion was very painful. I was able to walk out and drive myself home, but I then spent the next few days on the couch, clutching my abdomen.

    After that settled, the first few periods were excessively painful. I had never had painful periods before, but these were the worst! I would be sitting in a meeting at work and the pain would come out of nowhere, leaving me panting. For the first few months, I took a lot of time off work because I couldn’t cope with the pain.

    It eventually settled down and was fine for a few years. My periods were longer (used to be 3-4 days, then expanded out to 5-7 days) and more painful, but it was enough to handle.

    Fast forward 3 years and an ultrasound found a mass in my uterus (have since found out that it’s outside my uterus – but that’s a story for another day!). The ultrasound also found that the IUD was out of place, so my doctor recommended we move it.

    Having the doctor remove it was uncomfortable and it was mangled and contorted from having the mass grow over it. The doctor said “if felt like I was pulling your uterus out with it” – tell me about it, lady!

    I was lucky to have had it removed when I did, had it stayed longer and continued to be misshaped thanks to the growth, it would’ve had to come out surgically.

    All in all, I wouldn’t have an IUD reinserted. I would rather stick with less invasive and methods with less risk!

  51. Hello:

    I had had some problems with my periods. All my life I have had very strong periods, long time duration (between 7 and 9 days) and painful. I also have acne, a lot of hair and overweight.

    I started to take the pill but after years of normal duration periods, I had started to have periods heavier than before the pill.

    I left the pill and began again with my irregular periods, but I went to the doctor because I gained more weight even when I was already overweight, and my periods take up to two months to come and when I had it was very heavy.

    In a eco the doctors have seen cyst in my ovaries, so she put me on pill again but I’m afraid to have again the same problem that before, after a while began again to gain more weigth and more bledding.

    I was thinking to go in a copper IUD but my birth control hystories scares me that this can causes more problems than the pill. Recently in a new eco I don’t have cysts anymore but now I have some myomas.

    May you give an advice about a birth control method?

    • If you tend to heavy periods, then a copper IUD will probably not be a good choice. I discuss alternative birth control methods in Chapter 3 of my book. Condoms, cervical cap, hormonal IUD, Fertility Awareness Method, and Daysy.

  52. I love this article but would love some advice. I have had the copper IUD for 2 years now, and I’m worried that it has moved as I have had non stop bleeding for nearly 3 weeks. However I have not experienced any discomfort or pain, do you think my IUD might be the cause or a hormone imbalance?

  53. The topic is very much interesting. Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article. The information you provided in your writing would be much beneficial for the readers who may be planing for birth control .

  54. Dr. Lara I have PCOS with elevated dheas. I also have aquagenic urticaria. Could the urticaria (histamine) be increasing my adrenal androgens? Could it also be causing Insulin Resistance?

  55. Lara what is the next best for Candida after Berberine and Oregano oil? I can’t tolerate either and have a significant problem with Candida. Thank you!

      • Both, actually, but I had a IgE & IgG4 and my results were very spiked on Candida, it said avoid. I have had yeast infections in my belly button (chronically) as well as vaginally (also extremely chronically) and white tongue coating with a lot of digestive symptoms such as gas and stomach cramps, constipation, IBS, GERDS.

        • My first approach for my patients with chronic yeast infections is a no-sugar diet and probiotics saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and and Lactobacillus reuteri, RC-14.

  56. Dr. Lara,

    I need to get my thyroid tested as I’ve never had a full thyroid panel, only whatever is tested in conventional medicine (not a full panel) and my medicine is not working (Levothyroxine–Hypothyroid) and I have several goiters. My question is, to actually see where my thyroid levels are, do I need to be off my meds when testing and for how long?

  57. Lara, is a Prolactin level of 9.2 ng/mL high? Also does it matter what cycle day/time of day it’s tested? I think I was cycle day 18 and I have PCOS, this was collected around 9:30 AM.

  58. Dark memory of the Dalkon shield of the 1970s – ah yes, I haven’t forgotten it. I spent my honeymoon writhing in pain and thereafter suffered many abortions. But like you Lara, I like the idea of normal, healthy ovulation. I’m so glad they have improved the copper IUD>

  59. Dear Lara,

    How does one know if they are taking “too many” supplements that act as “blood thinners.” For instance, is Fish Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Digestive Enzymes, Systematic Enzymes and Cinnamon & Vitex &
    Mushroom caps too many of these properties or is this only a problem for people on blood thinning medications or blood problems such as anaemia?

  60. Do NAC & Curcumin really cause Kidney Stones from Cysteine build up and is there anything you can do to prevent this

    • I’m aware of the supposed risk of renal stone formation from N-acetyl cysteine, but my understanding is that it’s very rare. If you’re worried, then best to use it under the supervision of your doctor.

  61. Dr. Lara

    What dose of Goat’s Rue do you recommend for Insulin Resistance and is Fenugreek also good for Insulin Resistance?

  62. Hello Dr. Lara,

    Is it true Insulin Resistance causes high 5a-reductase? I have PCOS and very high 5a-Reductase, I am also Insulin Resistant. I want my 5a-Reductase down, but I was just wondering if getting the Insulin Resistance under control would bring it to normal or if I will still need 5a-Reductase inhibitors. Thank you!

  63. I had a copper IUD fitted when I was 26, had zero problems other than VERY painful insertion (I’m childless) and VERY painful cramping for 48 hours prior.
    I had an operation to detect endometriosis last year where I had to have my IUD surgically removed and replaced due to the strings disappearing. Other than that I’ve not gotten pregnant (fingers crossed it stays that way) and had no more painful or heavy periods than before.
    I’m on a course of vitamins and minerals from your book for endometriosis and PMT which may have also helps that. I would love not to have it as I don’t like the thought of having a foreign body inside me and having to have it changed, but it is literally the last method of BC that was available other than my husband having a vasectomy which I wish he could have.
    It’s given me freedom and security and no real issues.

  64. I recently had my Copper IUD removed so I can get pregnant. I had it in for 5 years. I did notice heavier periods, and occasional mid cycle spotting (but that could also be my low progesterone). It was nice to not have to worry about tracking my irregular cycle, or calling a time-out for condoms. All in all, I was happy with it, and would probably use it again in the future.

  65. Dear Dr. Lara,

    I, on behalf of myself and countless other women suffering unfairly and unrightly would like to request a blog post on incomplete breast development and insufficient glandular tissue. This is a silenced topic, and it shouldn’t be. Women deserve to have complete breast development, it is a part of their anatomy and it isn’t okay that so many of us are just expected to accept that we didn’t get to develop properly due to hormonal imbalance. It is a real problem. A devestating problem. A problem that deserves attention and solutions. You support women. You support women’s hormones. Please support us in this endeavor in our womanhood. This wouldn’t be tolerated if it were say, the male gonads. Please consider being a Pioneer on the topic and it’s solutions. We have no one else to support us and you have done so much for women in regards to their hormones and their periods. It has become a relevant subject. We are becoming educated. #Periodsmatter #Ovariesmatter #Breastdevelopmentmatters #Womenmatter #Insufficientglandulartissue #Incompletebreastdevelopment #Underdevelopedbreasts #Femaleanatomymatters #Sufferinginsilencematters #Letstalkaboutourbreastswithoutshame

    Women, speak up. You deserve full breast development as you were intended to have. It is not trivial. It is not shameful. You don’t have to be told breast implants are the only option. They aren’t an option. They are not functional breasts. They are not your anatomy. You should be able to breastfeed your children. You should be able to feel feminine in your womanhood and your anatomy. Do not let this world silence you any longer. Ladies, let us all come together, reach out and ask for help. And let us create question…if it were the male gonads in question, would it be acceptable to tell young men whose bodies are not developing to get silicon surgically shapped into their testes? Sounds pretty crazy doesn’t it? Sounds pretty insensitive to tell them that they must just accept it. No. I want more for women. Thank you Dr. Lara and the readers of this blog for your time.

  66. Dear Lara, what is your position towards a conventionally known herbal medicine – AGNUCASTON. It was recommended to me when I asked for natural progesterone. As the only natural way to threat progesterone deficiency in Europe.

  67. Laura, are you familiar with the Marquette method of fertility awareness? It utilizes the Clearblue Fertility monitor and an algorithm to avoid/achieve pregnancy. I love it because it is very objective, high-tech, and is suitable for post-partum. I like that it doesn’t require taking temperatures, just a easy urine test, and you have a 6-hour window so you’re not having to wake up at the same time everyday. I’m always surprised that it’s not more widely known so I wanted to put it out there!

    • Right. I’ve heard some women with PCOS can have success with the help of an instructor, but for women with regular cycles, I think it’s a great alternative to the sympto-thermal method.

  68. I have had my copper IUD for 1 year and 3 months and my experience has been nothing but positive. I especially chose this option as I did NOT want synthetic hormones. I have always had irregular periods and cramping and I had read that there is a likelihood of more cramping however since getting the copper IUD I no longer get cramps, my periods are like clockwork (I track them with a period diary) and arrive every 28-30 days. The only minor downside (for me/my body) is that my flow is heavier and lasts a day longer (4 days instead of 3). I have the 10 year version and I paid $160 for it. It’s the best form of contraception I have ever used and I have recommended it to many friends and family who do not want to use synthetic hormones. However like anything, there are potential risks and side effects for you to research and weigh up as Laura has outlined above but in this case you can at least take it out and try another option if it’s not for you.

  69. In my experience there was nothing natural about my periods and the outcome of having the copper iud. I bleed uncontrollably passing large clots of blood, like liver you see sold in the meat market. I had to have a hysterectomy at 29 as a result of having that iud. Nothing natural about having to sue and winning, living with the life changing outcome, it is not a choice but a dangerous one to even consider.

  70. While technically, the IUD is used by women more than any other method, this factoid is only true if you look at it in terms of population. Women in east and central Asia (where a large chunk of the world’s population resides) drive most of the total population of IUD use; rates are much, much lower for most other parts of the world. Most countries in Africa (4%), Southeast Asia (~4%), Central and South America (6%), and North America (5%) have quite low IUD use. Having worked in international family planning for years now, I can tell you from the literature and from personal experience that most women in the developing world don’t use and don’t like IUDs. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good method- as you mention (and I think your article is great, btw), they have a lot of benefits. But in general, the percentage of women who like them is heavily region specific.

  71. Hi Lara, I agree with all your points and copper IUD is definitely superior to the pill, however just wanted to add- the copper increase side effects can be serious and long lasting. I’m seeing rampant zinc deficiency and I also see a lot of pyrolle patients- the copper IUD is disastrous for these women. Women should definitely have their zinc levels checked and avoid if any history of anxiety or depression or mental illness in the family. High copper is found in many children with ASD.

  72. Thank you for this post. I had a copper IUD inserted after the birth of my first child and didn’t find it too painful. I didn’t experience much cramping either, maybe the next day but that’s it. Over time though I did notice longer bleeds (from 6-7 days to over 10 sometimes) I seemed to be spotting a lot more. I had it out after two years and became pregnant again after six months or so. Overall I was quite happy with it, although I won’t be using this type of bc agai. Probably going with FAM this time.

  73. Hi Lara,

    I’m not posting this to off-put any women from getting the copper IUD, but I was one of the unlucky ones who experienced big-time pain from the insertion process. Lucky for me, the nurse who prepped me for the procedure made no bones about it – she told me it would likely hurt, and advised I take painkillers before coming in. I hate taking painkillers for anything, so I only took a couple of Panadol. It was hands-down the most painful thing I have ever experienced (though I don’t have a lot to compare it to). I had a nurse who stood beside me throughout measuring my pulse – apparently a lot of women can pass out from the procedure? I wasn’t one of them!

    Prior to getting the IUD, I was on hormonal birth control for 10 years at ever increasing concentrations due to break-through bleeds. I never experienced period pain on the pill, but I did for the first two years of having the IUD – to the point where it felt like the insertion process was happening in reverse. At its worst, I have to stop talking and hold my breath while a cramp passes. I also bleed heavily, but both the pain* and the heavy flow only last for two days. My partner can also feel the strings.

    In saying all that, I STILL consider getting the IUD one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my health. I can rest easy, knowing it’s one less source of synthetic hormones I’m exposed to. I can’t forget to take anything. I can still act on primal urges. And I’ve virtually stopped going to the GP because there’s no script to refill. I think it’s taken a good two years to get back to a normal cycle – my periods are finally regular just over two years after stopping hormonal BC.

    I went dairy free for two months, and experienced two pain-free periods. This last month, I added dairy back in, and the pain came back with full force. That’s enough to convince me that being dairy free is the holy grail for pain relief (where I’d previously rely on a bottle of wine – because Panadol and Nurofen wouldn’t touch the pain!). I’ll go dairy free again for a couple of months before trying A2 casein to see how that fares.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience. It’s neither a horror story nor all rainbows and unicorns!

    P.S. Will you be at AHS in Boulder CO in August?

    • Hi Jenna,
      Great to hear from you, and thanks so much for sharing your story.
      No, I won’t be at AHS, but it sounds fun. Are you going?

  74. Is Longvida Curcumin a good substitute for the Curcumin with Bio-Piperine? Or, can you recommend a good brand without the Pepper? Pure Encapsulations, Vital Nutrients & Thorne all have the Pepper. I don’t know of any other worthy brands in the US and not sure if the Longvida is preferable being it works through absorbing agents. Opinion?

  75. It might be painful, many of us don’t experience pain with insertion – I had no pain what-so-ever.

    I’ve had no issues with mine and that goes for heavier bleeds too, I have VERY heavy flow and I’m a cup user so trust me when I say I’d have noticed if my copper IUD made my flow heavier. My original doctors did refuse to give me an IUD based on outdated information, but without other options and being refused treatment on FAM eventually my new doctors had to give in and let me have one by referring me to the local clinic for one.

  76. I read it causes abortion because it expulses the embryon after conception. I also read that some babies grow with the iud in their heads.

    • Oh, well if you heard it then it must be true!

      Abortion means termination of a pregnancy (and FYI pregnancy does not start at conception) – IUD’s are not implanted in pregnant women. IUD’s have a 99+% effectiveness rate so pregnancy risk is low and if pregnancy does occur then certainly an IUD will not grow within the head of the fetus. Maybe time to read-up on the facts.

      • Pregnancy does start at conception, which is why I chose the copper IUD as it prevents fertilisation. And if you do end up falling pregnant with it (which I did), it does not affect the pregnancy.

  77. Lara,

    As always, thank you for your wonderful posts! Unfortunately, in the US the Copper IUD may not cost as low as $150 as mentioned on your post. As a Copper IUD user myself, I received a statement from my insurance company showing a total cost of $800. Although my insurance company paid for this in full, I don’t believe others have been fortunate enough to have had their insurance company do the same. Hopefully this will change in the future.


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