IUDs are an excellent choice for contraception. The long term effectiveness of IUDs is not in question, and their safety record is extremely good, so women wonder if use of ParaGard IUD will change her periods.
The copper containing ParaGard IUD is approved in the US for 10 years of use but it’s likely efficacious for at least 12 years of use, and there are small studies that show that even after 20 years of keeping your copper IUD there is a very low risk of pregnancy!
One disadvantage of the copper non-medicated IUD is that menstrual bleeding does increase by up to 50% in some women. Normal blood loss is up to 80 cc per month, if you have a light period normally, for instance 40 cc of blood loss, increasing by 50% would mean you will have 60 cc periods. but if your period is normally 80 cc you might bleed 120 cc which in most women with a good diet and perhaps some extra iron with the period would not make you anemic and thus would still not be categorized as an intolerable period. Based on blood count studies, most women do not change their blood count in the first few months or even years of copper IUD use, but gradually over time women may have slightly decreased iron stores which likely reflect the longer term loss of extra menstrual blood. And in fact, bleeding is the main reason women discontinue their IUD use and have it removed. The women who are most stable on their IUD can anticipate that it will stay stable for long periods of time. However, over time the IUDs can accumulate calcium salt on their structure which can be irritating enough to the lining of the uterus to produce increased bleeding. For those who have increased bleeding after a long period of successful use, they should get the IUD removed.
All women of reproductive years need effective contraception, and should come in to Women’s Health Practice to get evaluated for which type will be most effective for you to ensure you have comprehensive gynecologic care.