What is it?
A copper IUD (short for intrauterine device) is a nonhormonal birth control method made of copper. Like its cousin the hormonal IUD, it’s a small T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus by a doctor or a gynecologist. It has two strings that descend through the vagina to make it easier to remove.
The copper IUD works in two ways. First, the copper changes the chemistry of your uterus to make it more hostile to sperm cells. Second, it inflames the uterus wall, which makes it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach. This means that this birth control method works entirely without hormones.
How do I use a copper IUD?
A copper IUD is inserted by a doctor, or a gynecologist, and is left in place for the duration of its effective life (five or 10 years, depending on the model). However, it can be removed by a doctor or a gynecologist at any time. You may be asked to regularly check the two strings in your vagina to make sure that the IUD is still in place.
You can use tampons or a menstrual cup with an IUD without any problems. However, if you’re using a menstrual cup, make sure that the suction effect that happens when you remove it does not pull on the strings of your IUD.
- Since this birth control method doesn’t have any hormones, the copper IUD does not interfere with your hormonal system or your menstrual cycle.
- This method is effective for a very long time, so you don’t have to worry about it every day.
- Your partner may feel the IUD strings in your vagina. If that bothers you, don’t be afraid to talk about it with your doctor.
- It can make your periods longer and heavier.
- Insertion can be painful.
- Copper IUDs are not covered by the Québec Health Insurance Plan.
- It does not protect you against sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs)
To learn more about this contraceptive method and its benefits and drawbacks, talk to your doctor or a gynecologist.