Pros and Sons of the Copper IUD (Paragard) Should you Use it?

Copper IUD Pros & Cons (+ Who Should & Shouldn’t Use it)

Should you use the Copper IUD Over Other Forms of Birth Control?

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When it comes to birth control, there are MANY options available. 

But how do you know which one you should use?

As someone who frequently manages hormones in women, my recommendation is to pick the form of birth control that impacts your sex hormones the LEAST. 

And when we talk about birth control that’s what you should care about the most, your sex hormones. 

Hormones like estrogen and progesterone. 

These are the hormones responsible for the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and fertility. 

If you have issues or problems with these hormones then it will impact your fertility, your ability to ovulate, and your ability to become pregnant. 

So most methods of birth control impact these hormones in some way. 

Except for the one we are going to talk about today, the copper IUD. 

The copper IUD, otherwise known as Paragard (1), is a long-term form of birth control and functions as an IUD. 

An IUD stands for intrauterine device. 

IUDs are placed inside of the uterus and typically work by blocking implantation thereby reducing/preventing fertility. 

The copper IUD is special in that it is the only IUD available that does NOT secrete hormones. 

Other IUDs, such as Mirena, function to prevent implantation but also secrete a low level of hormones out at a consistent rate to disrupt estrogen/progesterone balance and interfere with ovulation. 

The fact that the copper IUD does NOT do this is a huge benefit to women and it provides some special advantages that other forms of birth control do not. 

Due to these beneficial side effects, and many more (which we will talk about shortly), it’s one of my preferred methods of contraception for women. 

Pros (Benefits) of the Copper IUD

Before you run out and get the copper IUD you should be aware of both the potential benefits as well as the potential downsides. 

Let’s start with the benefits…

#1. It is VERY Effective

Like many forms of birth control, the copper IUD is considered to be VERY effective at preventing pregnancy. 

The success rate when using the copper IUD is around 99.4% (2) which puts it on par with most other forms of birth control. 

No form is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy but most medical forms of birth control are around the 99% range. 

#2. It does NOT Suppress sex hormones

Another huge benefit is the fact that it does NOT suppress your sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone). 

Most forms of birth control, especially when we start to talk about birth control pills, have a significant and negative impact on your sex hormones. 

They work to block ovulation by completely shutting down the production of native estrogen and progesterone production in your body. 

Birth control pills do this by providing your body with fake versions of progesterone and sometimes estrogen. 

These fake hormones feedback to your brain and shut down the production of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland. 

As you might suspect, this can definitely cause some long-term problems and it should be avoided at all costs! 

The copper IUD does NOT do this because it does NOT contain any fake hormones. 

#3. It allows your body to still ovulate

Because the copper IUD does not provide your body with synthetic hormones, you will still ovulate each month (provided your sex hormones are in balance). 

Ovulation and the impact ovulation has on your sex hormones, are very important for your long-term health. 

Ovulation helps to reduce inflammation, regulate immune function, improve metabolic function, and so on. 

You WANT your body to ovulate regularly. 

I should point out that because you are ovulating it is still possible for fertilization of your egg with sperm but because the IUD is located in the uterus it will prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg. 

#4. It allows for quick rebound fertility once you stop using it

In a perfect world, whatever form of contraception would work 100% until you were ready to become pregnant. 

In that perfect world, once you stopped taking your preferred form of birth control your body would bounce back and be ready for both ovulation and pregnancy. 

But this rarely happens. 

In fact, it can take months (sometimes longer, depending on the woman) for fertility to return after discontinuing synthetic hormones. 

This does NOT happen with the copper IUD. 

Once you have the IUD removed, your body will be ready for pregnancy (3) almost immediately. 

This happens because your brain doesn’t have to “restart” and start producing hormones again like it would with other forms of birth control. 

The copper IUD allows for much more precise pregnancy planning. 

#5. It has the highest satisfaction rate among women who use it

According to user satisfaction scores, Paragard is rated the highest

This number would probably be much higher if women really understood how damaging synthetic hormones are for their bodies.

#6. Lasts a long time (up to 10 years)

Another big benefit is that the copper IUD not only lasts a long time but it really is a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of birth control. 

The copper IUD will remain effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 10 years after insertion!

This does not mean you have to have it inserted for 10 years, though!


it can be removed at any point along this timeframe if you desire to try and become pregnant. 

Cons of The Copper IUD

While the copper IUD has some amazing benefits, there are also some cons that you should be aware of. 

In most cases, these cons do not outweigh the benefits but there are specific scenarios in which it may be preferable to use a hormone-secreting IUD over the copper IUD (these are rare but they do occur). 

#1. It may be expensive (cost)

One downside to the copper IUD is the cost. 

The copper IUD itself costs around $150 and you may have to pay additional fees for insertion, office visit, medications for the visit, and so on. 

When you look at it over the course of 10 years, the cost is minimal, but it may be prohibitive for some people! 

Also, be aware that your insurance may not cover it so be sure to ask before you get it inserted. 

#2. It’s painful when inserted

IUDs in general are not very comfortable when they are inserted, especially if you’ve never had a baby. 

It will require an office visit for insertion and you may want to prepare by taking a pain killer or another anti-inflammatory. 

I’ve personally seen some women experience fairly intense cramping after insertion that feels like a pinching pain. 

I can’t relate to the pain, but I can tell you from my perspective that it did not look comfortable!

Other women appear to have no issues with the insertion process. 

#3. It may cause some copper absorption and interfere with zinc/copper balance

Something you may not think about is that the copper IUD can secrete low levels of copper continuously after insertion. 

Because the copper IUD is made of copper and because it’s in contact with your insides (uterus), some of that copper will be absorbed into your system. 

Don’t let this freak you out though, because the absorption of copper is very low and shouldn’t cause any serious side effects or issues. 

This copper absorption can be mitigated by simply taking a zinc supplement by mouth. 

Zinc helps to regulate and balance your copper levels, so if you know you are absorbing more copper than usual, you can balance out this copper with some added zinc. 

This copper: zinc imbalance is NOT specific to the copper IUD, though. 

Other forms of birth control cause the same issue but through a different mechanism (4). 

Synthetic hormones, especially those with estrogen, cause the body to retain copper which can trigger anxiety. 

The treatment is still the same, supply your body with more zinc to offset the symptoms. 

#4. It increases your risk of bacterial vaginosis and disrupts the vaginal microbiome

The physical presence of an object in the uterus is enough to disrupt the microbiome of the vaginal tract. 

This microbiome is important for maintaining the diversity of the bacteria found in the vagina. 

Unfortunately, insertion of any IUD (including the copper IUD) is enough to change this microbiome which increases your risk of something called bacterial vaginosis (5). 

Bacterial vaginosis is the overgrowth of a specific type of bacteria that can alter the smell of the vagina in an unpleasant way. 

It’s easily treated with some antibiotics, though, but you should be aware that your risk of this condition is doubled compared to women who do not have an IUD. 

#5. There is a small risk of uterine perforation

This risk applies to all IUDs including the copper IUD. 

After insertion of the copper IUD, some women may experience uterine perforation. 

Uterine perforation is when the copper IUD literally pokes through the wall of the uterus. 

The uterus is a very strong muscle, so when it clamps down, it may cause this perforation to occur. 

It’s quite rare, however, and only occurs in about 1 in 1,000 cases. 

#6. You Need to See your Doctor for Removal

Lastly, if you want to get your copper IUD removed it will require an office visit. 

Some women have been able to remove the device themselves, but it’s not recommended and may increase your risk of complications. 

Removal is an easy procedure but you will still have to make it into the office to get it done. 

The Bottom Line

When you look at all of the potential benefits and harms that come when using the copper IUD it’s easy to see that it may be one of the best long-term options for birth control available. 

There are some rare but serious risks associated with copper IUD insertion but the benefits of not impacting your hormones may be worth that risk. 

In some situations, especially in women who suffer from endometriosis, hormone-secreting IUDs may be a better option. 

But if you are someone who wants a long-term form of birth control that does not disrupt your hormones or HPO axis, then the copper IUD is probably your best bet. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Are you thinking about using the copper IUD as a form of birth control?

Are you currently using the copper IUD? If so, has your experience been positive? If not, why not?

Were you aware of the fact that the copper IUD does not alter your sex hormones?

Leave your questions or comments below! 






is the copper iud the best long-term birth control method?

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About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 7 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

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12 thoughts on “Copper IUD Pros & Cons (+ Who Should & Shouldn’t Use it)”

  1. I need help…been on your site, but am confused…so I have low thyroid but taking Levothyroxine…. but have never felt like it was helping much….I don’t know whether to buy the thyrod boost one, advertised yesterday on FB, or the weight loss one….so could you help me out.?

    • Hi Marla,

      Of course! I always recommend starting with your thyroid first before trying the weight loss products. So you’d want to use T3 conversion booster first 🙂

  2. I knew I wanted the Paragard and specifically asked to have it, but my gyno refused and said the Mirana was a better IUD. I let her have her way, but eventually had it taken out. My partner and I are trying for a baby now, but once that process is over and we are parents, I plan on having the Paragard as my form of birth control. BTW, I am no longer working with this doctor, due to her not allowing me to choose my own form of preferred birth control! I know what I want and what is best for my body, thank you very much. Hate how doctors think they are the ultimate authority over our bodies!

    • Hi Kristin,

      Good for you! You definitely don’t want to go to a doctor that tries to push you towards certain therapies.

  3. Is it true that it can increase bleeding during periods? My doctor tried to use this as a reason why I shouldn’t go on it. However I’m on the jadelle impact second time round and the first time was fine but this time I’ve had awful side affects of mood and weight so am wanting to go without hormones but would prefer to still have some contraception

    • Hi Hannah,

      I assume you mean in between cycles? If so, yes, it can happen. Anything mechanical put into the uterus may cause irritation and lead to spotting or bleeding. This can happen with any physical object though and is not isolated to just the copper IUD.

  4. Given all the well documented serious health risks and side effects of several iud’s and ongoing class action lawsuits, can you please provide full disclosure?? Have you been compensated in “any” way via support, grants, sponsorship etc. by Paragard copper iud company or any of their affiliates for your Pro/Con Evaluation and recommendation of their copper iud?
    Thank you

    • Hi Deanne,

      I have no affiliation with any pharmaceutical company and have never received compensation from them for any reason. What you read here are my opinions.

  5. Is there any documentation about copper iuds and hashimotos? since the copper iud (well really any iud) causes inflammation in the uterus, will that set off TPO antibodies? I can hardly find any literature but Ive seen my TPO antibodies go up from March (insertion) to July when they were tested again!


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