Contraceptives and birth control options have been a subject of research over the years, in an effort to come up with a fool proof option.  Various options are presently available, having undergone considerable improvements with each passing year. Despite these advances in technology and materials, intrauterine devices (IUDs) remain one of the most sought-after options, due to the convenience, effectiveness and safety. Comparatively, IUDs and implants are regarded as the safest among all birth control options. Here is a detailed look at various birth control options and the possibility of copper IUD side effects. This will help couples to follow necessary precautions to avoid undesirable effects and to mitigate the effects.

Overview of copper IUDs

One of the reasons for the popularity of copper IUD is the convenience of the birth control method, when compared with other options. For instance, contraceptives require actions before intercourse, while birth control pills need to be taken within a certain window, after indulging in sex. With Copper IUD, couples can indulge in sexual intercourse without the need for additional actions, and without any interruptions during the act. However, the downside to the method is the long-term nature, which makes it more suitable for married couples or couples who are into a long-term relationship. Couples in a casual relationship or those who indulge in impulsive sex, may not find this convenient to offer protection.

While most individuals are likely to regard copper IUDs as a long-term birth control method, it is effectively a flexible option of long term as well as short term. To put it differently, copper UIDs can protect from unwanted pregnancies for as much as ten years from the date of being implanted. On the same note, it is not a permanent fixture and can be removed under medical supervision. This makes it a fully reversible option, and can therefore be used for short term protection also. It is ideal for use by women in pre-menopause.

Copper UIDs as emergency contraception

Another popular preconceived notion about copper IUDs is its association with planned birth control. Most couples are unaware that copper IUD can also be an effective emergency contraceptive. Couples who have had unprotected sex and intending to prevent pregnancy, can use the implant to avoid pregnancies. This can work for almost 120 hours or five full days after the act of sexual intercourse. A success rate of 99% through this method makes it one among the top emergency contraceptive options. However, the efficacy also depends on various factors, and it is important for couples to understand that failure is a possibility for 1% of users, and anyone could figure on the list of 1% failures.

Mechanism of action of Copper IUD  

The mechanism of action of copper IUDs are relatively simple, yet effective. An implant, the device is a spermicide that is the shape of “T” in plastic. The insertion is carried out by a trained practitioner, in a healthcare setting. It is inserted in the uterus, and the spermicidal action is achieved by the coiled copper wire in the device. The inflammatory properties of the copper wire, work on sperm, and this prevents pregnancy through the toxic action on sperm. The frame contains attached strings that help practitioners to position and remove the device, whenever necessary. The device measures around 36 millimeters, and the strings on either side are 10 centimeters long. The extra lengths of the strings are cut, after insertion of the device.

The important of the right settings for the procedure

While it may appear to be a relatively simple procedure, it is extremely important to ensure that the procedure is carried out in a healthcare setting by a trained and certified practitioner. Incorrect insertion may result in possible copper IUD side effects and this is precisely why it is necessary to get it performed in the right setting. The use of specialized instruments for the procedure will help prevent wrong positioning, and also prevent any unwanted injury. It is of paramount important to align the cervical canal and the uterine cavity, and this requires expertise. Healthcare settings offer the right sanitized environments for the procedure.

Process of insertion

As mentioned above, the T shaped plastic device with the copper wire needs to be inserted; before which it is necessary to clean the vagina and cervix. This is performed with a speculum for applying a special solution that delivers an antiseptic action. After the cleansing with the solution, the cervical canal is aligned. Following this, an applicator tube is used to insert the copper IUD in the uterus. After the device has been successfully placed in the right position, the applicator tube is removed, and the extra string is snipped. The string is intended for helping position the device in the right position.

Categories of women who should not choose this option 

As outline above, copper IUDs are safe, with a high degree of efficacy and offers a level of convenience unseen in other methods. However, it is not the best choice for all categories of women. For instance, uterine abnormalities make the procedure incompatible. This is because large fibroids will hamper the accurate positioning the T shaped device. It is also important for the implanted device to remain in position for complete efficacy. The presence of large fibroids may also cause the device to either get dislodged or move to an extent that renders it ineffective in preventing pregnancy.

In addition to the above, there is also the possibility of the effectiveness being affected by certain other conditions. For instance, women diagnosed with pelvic infections or any inflammation are not to opt for the implant, till such time that the infection or the inflammation is untreated. The implant procedure may be chosen after the condition resolves. Other conditions that make the procedure unsuitable include the following:

Possible copper iud side effects at the time of insertion

Women are likely to experience certain reactions when the IUD is implanted. This is typically experienced only by a small section of women and is not experienced by all women undergoing the procedure. Commonly reported reactions include a reduction in blood pressure levels, dip in heart beat rate, fainting and nausea or feelings of dizziness. In the event of such reactions, the practitioner typically halts the procedure, waiting for the feelings or reported sensations to pass/clear. Most of these symptoms are not known to last long, and may typically be experienced for a few minutes, following which the insertion procedure continues.

The need for choosing a trained practitioner to prevent perforation of the cervix

Ione of the reasons for the need to rely on the services of a trained practitioner in a healthcare setting is the need to avoid internal damage. Incorrect insertion carried out by inexperienced individuals can possibly result in internal damage and result in cervix perforation. While this has been documented to occur only in a small number of cases, especially when performed by untrained individuals. In the aftermath of such unfortunate incidents, the perforation is assessed, following which suitable treatment is extended.

Success rates of copper IUD make it one of the best birth control options

Copper IUD comes with some of the highest success rates in preventing unplanned pregnancies. The failure rate is 0.8% which is one of the lowest among birth control methods. It is however, necessary to add that the success rates may differ, and depends on various conditions. Devices that are used for a longer period may have lesser efficacy in preventing pregnancy, when compared with devices that are in place for a shorter period. The failure rate could rise to almost 2.1% when the device remains in the body for ten years or more.

Birth control methods – comparison of success rates

Here is a quick comparison of the success/failure rates of various birth control methods. This will help understand the effectiveness of IUD implants.

From the comparison above, it is clear that the devices fare better than other forms of birth control even when it is at its lowest effectiveness.  The best part of the device is its effectiveness as an emergency option to prevent conception from unprotected sex.

Possibilities of failure of IUDs

There are possibilities for the device to fail, and this is mostly attributed to incorrect positioning. There is also the likelihood of the device failing if it does not remain in place and gets dislodged.  The strings are used for placing it in position, and will also serve as a marker to determine if it is in place. Women who are unable to detect the string need to seek the assistance of trained healthcare professionals to fix it in place. Any sexual intercourse during this period can be risky and could result in the woman conceiving. It may be necessary to rely on other methods of birth control during this period; till such time that the IUD is repositioned.

One drawback of IUDs when compared with condoms/barriers

Condoms are the best methods when it comes to preventing sexually transmitted diseases. IUDs do not offer this protection and are mainly intended for birth control methods alone. It may be necessary for couples to rely on contraceptives and dental dams to prevent diseases that are transmitted through contact, including oral sex. It is pertinent to add that barriers may also end up with perforations or damages, and individuals can be exposed to the risk of infections, when indulging in sex with an infected partner, even when condoms are worn.

Effects that are a cause for concern 

As mentioned earlier, most of the undesirable effects are typically short term in nature and are not a cause for worry. However, certain effects need to be managed at the earliest, including removal of the device to avoid aggravation, such as:

A noteworthy difference is the fact that women who have been through childbirth earlier are likely to experience lesser effects, while women who have not been through childbirth may experience stronger effects.

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