Copper T is a small non-hormonal intrauterine device made from plastic and copper that’s inserted into the uterus for long-term contraception. The system prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years. It’s one of the best and most reliable methods of contraception. The probability of pregnancy within 1 year of wearing a copper IUD is between 0.6% and 0.8%.
Indications for use
Copper T is recommended for women who live a regular sex life, but at the same time do not want to use hormonal drugs to prevent conception. When installing the system, the constant partner factor is important, that is, the woman should have a low risk of getting a sexual infection. For breastfeeding women, copper IUDs are one of the best contraceptive options.
The copper device can also be used as a means for emergency contraception if the woman gets the system inserted within 7 days after unprotected sex.
Mechanism of action
The copper intrauterine device creates a very high, stable and long-lasting contraceptive effect. Copper has a spermatic effect, reducing the level of activity and destroying the structural structure of spermatozoa.
The basic mechanisms of the device are based on physiological and partly biochemical effects. The system has several actions at once:
slows the progress of the egg through the fallopian tubes;
has a harmful effect on spermatozoa, suppressing their ability to fertilize.
The action of Copper T begins immediately after the insertion of the device in the uterine cavity.
The system provides immediate efficacy and guarantees a high level of protection from unwanted pregnancy. The woman does not need to take care of any other methods of contraception.
Copper IUD insertion
IUD insertion is a relatively safe procedure.
The device is installed for up to 10 years. Follow-up examinations by a doctor are only required during the first few months, then you need to undergo regular annual gynecologist consultations.
The procedure for the introduction of a Copper IUD is similar to a conventional gynecological examination.
Before inserting the device, the doctor conducts a regular gynecological examination. This is necessary to determine the position and features of the structure of the pelvic organs and to exclude diseases that can increase the likelihood of complications during or after the installation of the system – in particular, cervical infection or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Then, the doctor fixes the cervix with a special instrument, inserts a sterile probe into the cervical canal and promotes it into the uterine cavity. This gives the doctor an accurate idea of the size of the uterine cavity.
After that, the doctor removes the probe and inserts a coiled IUD device into the uterine cavity using a plastic applicator.
After insertion, the filaments attached to the lower end of the helix are cut a few centimeters below the entrance to the cervix.
More than half of the women undergoing this procedure report that the introduction of the device was completely painless or almost painless. The rest of the women evaluate the introduction of the system as “painful” or “unpleasant.”
Abdominal pain may persist within a few days after the IUD insertion.
To ease the pain, you can use painkillers (for example, paracetamol or ibuprofen).
To maintain the contraceptive effect of the copper device after its introduction, no action is required. The effect persists for 3-10 years, depending on the brand of the device.
How to know IUD is in place?
The IUD has two thin strands that hang at the top of the vagina. The doctor who inserts the device will teach you how to grope these threads and check whether Copper IUD is in place.
Check the system several times during the first month, and then after each menstruation at regular intervals. It is highly unlikely that the device falls out, but if you do not grope for the thread or if it seems to you that the system is not in the right position, you are not protected from pregnancy. In this case, immediately consult a doctor and use additional contraceptives, such as condoms, until your IUD is tested. If you have had sex recently, you may need emergency contraception.
Your partner should not feel your IUD during sex. If he feels the strands, consult a doctor to check the position of the device.
Doctors will also be able to shorten the thread a little. If you feel pain during sexual intercourse, immediately visit your doctor.
Copper IUD is contraindicated in the following cases:
- breast cancer;
- cervical cancer;
- liver disease;
- unexplained vaginal bleeding between menstruation or after intercourse;
- arterial disease or a history of serious heart disease or stroke;
- untreated STI or pelvic infection;
- problems with the uterus or cervix.
An allergy to copper can also become a contraindication. In this case, the doctor will recommend intrauterine devices with other metals. Gold and silver are hypoallergenic, well tolerated by the body. If you have a tendency to allergic reactions, tell the gynecologist about it. He/she will give directions to additional research to find safe contraception.
Copper T can change your menstrual period. For example, it can become less regular, and in some cases, completely stop.
Irregular bleeding and spotting occur within the first six months after the IUD is installed. This is not dangerous and usually decreases with time.
Some women experience headaches, acne and chest pain after the device insertion.
An unusual side effect is the appearance of small fluid-filled cysts on the ovaries – they usually disappear without treatment.
The IUD does not protect you from STIs, so in some cases, you will have to use condoms during sexual intercourse. If you got infected with an STI with a copper device inside, it can lead to a pelvic infection if you do not begin timely treatment.
Most women stop using the IUD because of vaginal bleeding and pain, although this is rare.
There may also be hormonal problems, but this happens in unique cases.
Women who have any of these side effects should report this as soon as possible to their doctor. Despite the fact that some problems, for example changes in the menstrual period, usually disappear when the body adapts to the presence of a system in the uterus, side effects of any kind require proper evaluation. If side effects become severe, there may be a need to remove the intrauterine device.
Complications caused by Copper IUD are rare and usually occur within the first six months after insertion. These include:
- Damage to the uterus. In rare cases (less than one per thousand), the IUD can lead to perforation of the uterus or cervix. This can cause pain in the lower abdomen. If the insertion was performed by an experienced physician, the probability of perforation is extremely low. If perforation occurs, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the device. Visit your doctor right away, as soon as you feel severe pain after installing the system. Perforation should be removed immediately;
- Pelvic infections. They occur within the first 20 days after the device is installed. The risk of contracting from the IUD is extremely small (less than one in 100 women who are not at risk of STIs). Doctors usually recommend an internal check before installing the system to make sure that there are no existing infections;
- Rejection. Sometimes Copper IUD is rejected by the uterus or displaced. This phenomenon is not common and is more likely to occur immediately after installation. The doctor will teach you to check whether the IUD is in place;
- Ectopic pregnancy. If the IUD does not work and you become pregnant, the device should be removed as soon as possible if you decide to save the baby. There is a small increase in the risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy if a woman becomes pregnant with a copper device inserted.
Can an IUD device fall out?
IUD falling out from the uterine cavity to the vagina (or outward) is observed, on average, in 2-10% of women, and most often occurs within the first 3 months after its installation.
In women who participated in one study, the average probability of a copper IUD falling out during 5 years was 6.7%.
The probability of falling out is higher in women who have strong menstrual bleeding, severe pain during menstruation, or the presence of uterine fibroids. In women with submucous myoma, the likelihood of device proliferation may increase to 12%).
The likelihood of falling out is also slightly higher in young women, in women with abnormal uterine shape and in women who have already had an IUD inserted in the past.
The risk of the system fallout does not depend on the length of the uterine cavity, on whether the woman gave birth in the past or not, or whether she uses vaginal swabs.
Copper IUD and pregnancy
Copper T can be inserted at any time during the menstrual period until you are pregnant. When you have a desire to conceive, you need to simply remove the system, and the natural ability to conceive is restored from the next period.
If you become pregnant, the risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy will be high. But since such a scenario is unlikely, the overall risk of ectopic pregnancy with an IUD is lower than in women who do not use contraceptives.
Use after a miscarriage or abortion
The device can be installed by a doctor right after an abortion or a miscarriage if the gestation period does not exceed 24 weeks. If you have been pregnant for more than 24 weeks, you may need to wait a few weeks before installing the system.
Using IUD after birth
The introduction of Copper IUD is permitted in breastfeeding since it does not affect the production, composition and quality of breast milk. The system can be inserted already in 4-6 weeks after birth (vaginal birth and Caesarean section).
You will need to use alternative contraceptives three weeks after delivery until a device is installed. In some cases, the IUD can be inserted within 48 hours after delivery.
How to remove your IUD?
An IUD can be deleted at any time. If you are not going to get the device inserted again but do not plan a pregnancy, you will have to use another method of contraception (for example, condoms) for seven days before the IUD is removed.
Spermatozoa can remain in the body of a woman for seven days and can fertilize an egg after the system is removed. Once it is removed from the body, your fertility returns.
If an intrauterine device is inserted into a woman who is over 45 years old, it can remain in the uterus until the onset of menopause or until a period when contraception is no longer needed.
Copper T does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can protect yourself only using an additional condom.
The device has no effect on sexual intercourse.
Aspects that you need to remember when inserting an intrauterine device:
- Manipulation inside the uterus can be performed only by an experienced gynecologist;
- The first 1.5 weeks after the introduction of the IUD, you’d better refrain from sexual intercourse;
- Refrain from heavy physical loads, as during the adaptation period there is a risk of IUD falling out;
- It is important to undergo an examination a week after the insertion for the correct placement of the system in the uterine cavity.
Before the insertion of an intrauterine device, a comprehensive examination is required:
- ultrasound of the small pelvis;
- smear on infection;
- advanced colposcopy;
- blood tests for sexual infections;
- gynecological examination.
The contraceptive effect of copper IUD is completely and quickly reversible. The ability of a woman to conceive a child is restored, on average, a few weeks after the removal of the system.
Wearing a copper device does not increase the likelihood that a woman will have difficulty in conceiving a child after its removal.
The copper intrauterine device can be used by almost all women who wish to provide themselves with long-term contraception, regardless of their age and whether they have given birth in the past or not.