Copper IUD

The copper IUD is a device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. This prescription contraceptive is thought to work by interfering with fertilization and preventing implantation of an embryo. Possible side effects include bleeding between periods and heavier periods. This intrauterine device can remain in place for up to 10 to 12 years, depending on your healthcare provider's recommendations.

What Is the Copper IUD?

The copper IUD (ParaGard®) is a hormone-free intrauterine device (IUD) used to provide long-term birth control. It is a small polyethylene (plastic) and copper device, and is approved to provide up to 10 years of highly effective birth control. Some healthcare providers allow the copper IUD to be used for up to 12 years before replacing it, as some studies have shown that it remains effective for at least that long; however, the device is only approved for up to 10 years.
(Click What Is the Copper IUD Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Are There Side Effects?

Just like any medicine, the copper IUD may cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses the contraceptive will experience problems. In fact, most women tolerate it quite well.
If reactions do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Common side effects of the copper IUD include but are not limited to:
  • Heavier, longer periods
  • Spotting between periods.
(Click Copper IUD Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
Pregnancy and Pain