Sexual Health » Sex Ed, Women's Health, Safer Sex: "Contraception Series Part 2: Paragard, the Non-Hormonal IUD"

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Contraception Series Part 2: Paragard, the Non-Hormonal IUD
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For those of you who read the first installment of my contraceptive series, this is the second installment, in which I will provide accessible written information about Paragard. Paragard is my favorite contraceptive to talk about because, well, I use it! This article will provide information about the basics of Paragard— everything you need to know when making your decision about what contraceptive is best for you.

  No Hormones? How does it work?

Because Paragard is partially made of flexible plastic, it does not require dilation of the cervix in the same way that old, completely metal IUDs did. However, it releases a small amount of copper, a metal that has been used for contraception since women drank a mixture of water and copper ore for contraception in ancient Greece. Although no one is completely sure how copper prevents pregnancy, there are a number of theories. One is that the uterus becomes inhospitable for pregnancy due to the copper, which would make sense given its toxicity. It may not affect the woman, but a small embryo could be more heavily affected. Another theory is that the copper encourages the uterus to produce a compound that kills sperm. Regardless, it’s incredibly effective. For every 1000 women who use it per year, 10 will become pregnant, so it has a failure rate of 1% when it is the only contraception used. When used in conjunction with condoms, spermicide, or another method, this rate decreases.

Of course every woman is different, but my sister and I had similar insertion experiences with Paragard; it took us each about ten minutes, and we felt a strong pinching. Then, it was over. Many people are scared of insertion, but if you have a good gynecologist who has inserted IUDs before and has been trained to do so, you should not be scared. If you have a very low pain tolerance, perhaps just take some ibuprofen beforehand. I didn’t need to have my cervix dilated, and I’m a very young woman who has never been pregnant. Anyone can get an IUD inserted, really!

  What happens once I get it?

On to the side effects: because Paragard is non-hormonal, there are very few side effects to this contraceptive option. Infections are more likely to occur due to the string that is attached to the device - for the purpose of removal and checking to ensure it has not expelled itself. Expelling is another side effect. Expulsion is incredibly rare, but it occasionally happens. This just means that the uterus pushes out the IUD—it falls out, essentially, or at least out of place. There is not anything a woman can do to prevent this from happening aside from not pulling on the string. Sometimes, Paragard can also cause heavier bleeding and cramps.

So who should use Paragard, and who should not? Women who want low-maintenance birth control that’s always there when you need it but requires absolutely no effort, those looking into sterilization but aren’t sure yet, those who use contraception solely not to get pregnant, those who don't want children for a number of years (such as students or people starting a career), and those who want to avoid hormones without relying on barrier methods or spermicide, among others! Who should not use it? Those who use contraception for reasons other than pregnancy prevention and those with heavy and/or painful periods, particularly those with conditions like endometriosis.

If this method fails and you choose to carry the pregnancy to term, see a doctor immediately to remove the device. Pregnancies that occur while using Paragard can cause serious problems like ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus such as in the ovaries or fallopian tubes. These are very dangerous and need to be resolved immediately. If you are using Paragard and think you may be pregnant, find out as soon as possible.

Next time, I’ll be covering the other modern intrauterine device, the hormonal option, Mirena. If you have questions about Paragard that I did not address here, either send me a message or ask in comments!


I am excited to read the next installment about Mirena. I am a lesbian that suffers from Endometriosis and I would live a hormonal option to help with my pain/heavy bleeding. I am not sure if it will be the best option yet.


I think the IUD definitely should be more widely known so that women can consider it as one of their options, but unfortunately, it doesn't work for everyone. When I had mine inserted, I bled a little bit all the time instead of having a monthly period. After doing an ultrasound to make sure it was in place properly, all my gynecologist could suggest was that it was irritating my uterus too much to lay down a lining each month, and to try and give it time to see if it settled down. It never did, so I had to get it removed. That was very disappointing. I had never been pregnant, and I found the insertion painful, and had cramps for a day or two, but it never hurt after that. The removal was painless. If it hadn't been for the bleeding, it would still be my contraceptive of choice.

My experience is not at all typical, but I wanted to include it here, in case women considering the Paragard found it useful. Thanks for the article, novanilla!






Thanks for the info. I've heard of IUDs before but not this particular one. It sounds like it wouldn't work for me because I do get painful periods but I like that it's non-hormonal.


I've been thinking about getting an IUD, and this article was tremendously helpful and informative. Thank you!


I love my Paraguard IUD. Going on three years in february! No pregnancy scares. My acne slowed down to manageable. I still have normal to heavy bleeding with cramps (Oh My!) which is the reason I had started The Pill. It's sooooo much less stressful for my lifestyle. I used to ALWAYS forget my pills. Since I got my IUD, I don't have INTENSE PMS with emotional highs and lows, where I would literally go from crying to breaking shit. My life and my boyfriends life is so much better. It also has helped with our relationship both in that we can have sex anytime any where any place, and we neither worry whether were going to have a bun growing in the oven! Words cannot express my grattitude to Planned Parenthood for providing this service to me and thousands of other girls. I always encourage other girls and women to consider the Non Hormone IUD.

Thank you for posting about this. Many other people need to know!


I have it too and I am good until 0218 I had it put in 2008 for free so I am very pleased with it best BC I have ever used my husband wants a girl after our 2 attempts at her and having boys I am done though love what I already have and sticking to it and having the IUD is so easy for me no worries so far thank you para guard



Discussion Last Post Category
What kind of birthcontrol do you use? [7] Nov.25, 2012

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