In a survey carried out by Planned Parenthood
in 2013, IUDs are the most popular form of contraception among women�s health providers.
And that�s not so surprising: IUDs are 99 percent effective and can last anywhere from
3 to 12 years, depending on the type. Plus, there�s no need to remember to take a daily
pill. It�s natural to be a little skeptical when
reviewing the IUD�s impressive resume. Maybe you�ve raised an eyebrow at the gynecologist�s
office or simply wondered to yourself, �Are these tiny, T-shaped devices too good to be
true?�. If you�ve researched IUDs, you may have
stumbled across the concern that the ParaGard, a non-hormonal IUD that�s partially made
from copper, can cause copper toxicity in the body. To get to the bottom of this ParaGard
puzzle, we asked the experts: should we be concerned about getting copper toxicity from
this type of IUD? What Is the ParaGard?.
The ParaGard works to prevent pregnancy while inserted in uterus, and is the only non-hormonal
IUD approved by the FDA. While other IUDs, like the Mirena and Skyla, emit progesterone
to prevent pregnancy, the ParaGard relies on copper. �The ParaGard has a T-shaped
plastic frame with copper wrapped around the stem,� says Dr. Sara Zar�, a Naturopathic
Doctor at San Francisco�s Radiant Health who has experience in family planning and
IUD insertion. �This continuously releases copper into the lining of the uterus. The
copper produces an inflammatory reaction that�s toxic to sperm, which is how it works to prevent
pregnancy. In fact, this reaction can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years after insertion.� Dr. Shaun Samples, an OBGYN at WOMEN Obstetrics
& Gynecology in Nashville, Tennessee, offers this helpful analogy: �The copper in the
ParaGard prevents pregnancy by disabling sperm from swimming. Sperm have to run an obstacle
course to fertilize the egg and their interaction with copper makes their performance suffer.� What�s copper toxicity?.
First, it�s important to note that copper is important for nerve function and bone growth.
The Mayo Clinic recommends adolescents and adult women get 1.5 to 3 mg of copper a day
through food or supplementation. Lentils, sunflower seeds, beef liver, dark chocolate,
and almonds are all great copper-rich foods. But Dr. Zar� warns that, like many things
in life, going overboard isn�t a good idea. �Copper is an essential trace element critical
for normal human metabolism,� she says. �Copper deficiency can occur with inadequate
copper intake, but excess copper intake may cause toxicity to humans.� Excess copper
can result in symptoms like fatigue, headaches and migraines, mood swings, paranoia, a racing
heart, aching muscles, and problems with concentration or memory. In conclusion, It�s normal to
wonder if the ParaGard, which can emit copper into the uterus for up to 10 years, could
also cause copper toxicity. But according to clinical studies and both doctors we consulted,
there�s little need to worry. �Studies have shown that the level of copper in your
blood does not increase with the ParaGard,� says Dr. Samples. �Using the medical definition
of �copper toxicity,� there have been no cases related to the copper IUD in literature
that we can find. The amount of copper in an IUD, even if swallowed, would not be sufficient
to cause toxicity.� Dr. Zar� backs up this statement, and points
to several clinical studies that offer further evidence. Remember, you�re the only expert of you.
That being said, Dr. Samples adds that there are those whose bodies don�t react well
to the copper IUD, like those with copper allergies or Wilson�s Disease, as the ParaGard
may cause too much discomfort or simply not feel right inside of your body. �When you
consider that each human being, except for identical twins, has a unique biochemical
structure, we can�t be sure exactly how any medication or device will be tolerated
by a particular person,� she says. �We may be experts in medicine, but you are the
only expert in you. The beauty of a reversible contraceptive like the ParaGard is that you
can stop using it if you do not feel like yourself.� For more research based health tips, subscribe
to the channel.