ParaGard – intrauterine copper Non-Hormonal IUD, dubbed as copper t-380a, is the best alternative to hormonal common contraceptive implants such as Mirena. People commonly misspell this IUD as ParaGuard.
Non-Hormonal Iud and Paragard Functionality:
But the correct name is ParaGard T-380A and it is the only non-hormonal IUD, copper-based intrauterine contraceptive (IUC). This could be a great option for women that cannot or do not want to use any hormonal birth control methods.
A little background of ParaGard
Back in the 1970s, an IUD Dalkon Shield was introduced to the market. Women who used it commonly suffered from pelvic inflammatory disease as well as infertility. Thus, it gave a bad name to copper IUDs.
In 1975 Dalkon Shield was recalled. ParaGard was initially developed in the 1970s as well but had some difficulties due to the reputation and with the approval of the product by the US government. In 1984 the company decided to introduce this IUD outside of the US.
In 1988 ParaGard was finally approved in the United States. Today IUDs have monofilament threads that minimize the risk for bacteria transmission into the uterus and fallopian tubes.
Description of Paragard and Mirena:
ParaGard or Copper T has a similar shape as Mirena. It is a small T-shaped plastic. The copper wire is wrapped around the entire device and it has two strings attached to the bottom of the stem. Those strings have two important roles:
- They facilitating the removal of the device for the health practitioner
- They give you the ability to check if the device is in the right place.
Copper T is a long term contraceptive. When the IUD is inserted into the uterus, it could stay there for a maximum of 10 years. Of course, if you change your mind and decide to get pregnant, all you have to do is to see your doctor have the device removed. Once it is out, your fertility returns within a few days.
How does it work and How effective is it?
Once the IUD is inserted into the uterus, it starts continuously releasing small particles of copper into the uterine cavity. Copper is toxic for the sperm, so Copper T blocks the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg.
You should keep in mind that ParaGard does not stop the ovulation. Therefore, there is a slight chance that the egg could still be fertilized. But do not worry, the IUD makes the uterus lining thin, and prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.
ParaGard is also a good “emergency contraception”, but it must be inserted within 5 days of physical contact. As you can see, the probability to get pregnant is extremely low – less than 1%.
Chances to get pregnant using other birth control methods are at least three times higher. With typical use of regular condoms, the chance that you might get pregnant is 12%.
With oral birth control it is less than 3%, but do not forget that you must take the pill on a regular basis, skipping a day, increases the chance of you getting pregnant. The failure rate of the diaphragm of a typical use is 10-39%. As you can see that ParaGard is the most reliable birth control method out there.
How Much Does a Mirena IUD and Paragard Cost?
If you are seriously considering getting ParaGard, you should check out local clinics that are authorized to perform the insertion. Do not try to do it yourself, you can accidentally poke your uterus and cause complications.
Before inserting the device, your health practitioner will make you take certain tests, to make sure that you are a good candidate. IUD – Intrauterine Device provides a bit more detailed read about the insertion, the maintenance, and the removal process.
Out of two birth control implants, ParaGard is a little cheaper than Mirena. Usually, the price includes the check-up, the device itself and the insertion. The price for ParaGard could range anywhere between $250 – $500.
However, most of the insurance companies cover the entire cost, so make sure that you do your research before getting the device. Even if you do not have the insurance, in the long run, it turns out to be the cheapest contraceptive device in the market.
If you are like to read more about side-effects, you can check out Birth Control Implant Side Effects.
What Are the Function of Intrauterine Device IUD:
Modern IUD was created by Ernest Graftenberg in the early 1960s. However, back in the days, Arab Bedouins used first IUDs on their camels. For the camel not to get pregnant on the long journey across the desert, they used to place pebbles into camels uterus, thus making it difficult for the sperm to reach an egg.
WHAT IS AN IUD?
IUD – is an Intrauterine Device or IUS – Intrauterine System (For UK). It is made of a small, less than 1.5 inches long, T-shaped plastic apparatus that is placed into the uterus to prevent unwanted pregnancy. All IUDs have strings attached to the end.
Those strings will hang out of the cervix and are meant for women to check if the device is still in place. Strings also are used by doctors to remove the device. IUD is one of the most common contraceptive implants available in the market.
There Are Two Main Types of IUDs Available in the Market:
- Hormonal IUD. Levonorgestrel Intrauterine System (LNG-IUS) also known as Mirena. This type if IUD contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic progesterone hormone.This device releases small doses of the hormone into the wall of the uterus throughout the period of five years. Progesterone thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for the sperm to enter the uterus. If the egg was somehow fertilized, the hormone prevents it from attaching itself to the lining of the uterus. Moreover, levonorgestrel prevents ovulation.
- Copper IUD. The Copper T380A also called ParaGard. It is a plastic device, where the copper wire is wound around the stem. It releases copper ions, which are toxic to sperm. Thus, it affects the way sperm moves, preventing from joining the egg. Copper ions also change the lining of the uterus, preventing implantation should fertilization occur. ParaGard can also be used as emergency contraception if it is inserted within 5 days of intercourse. Women choose this method to avoid any artificial hormones.
While IUDs are very effective at preventing pregnancies, it offers no protection against STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
Before the IUD Insertion
If you would like to get an IUD, you must visit a clinic that does IUD insertions. Usually, women require a complete pelvic check-up, breast exam, STI check, Pap test, and pregnancy test. Based on the test results, the health care practitioner can help you to decide if an IUD is right for you. If you have any kind of pelvic infections, you may need to treat that first.
An IUD can be inserted any time of the month, but most preferably if it is done in the middle of the menstrual cycle. The insertion process takes around 10-20 minutes and can be performed under local anesthesia.
Once you have been determined as a good candidate for IUD, a health care provider will place a speculum in your vagina; clean the vagina and cervix with an antiseptic solution.
Then, a special instrument used to grasp your cervix; here you might feel a brief pain. Afterward, IUD is inserted using a narrow applicator tube. The device is inserted through the cervix up about 1 inch into the uterus.
A woman might experience cramping during implantation; therefore it is recommended to take some pain killers before the procedure. The IUD is pushed into place by a plunger in the tube.
Once the tube is removed, the IUD arms open into the “T” shape. Two strings attached to the end of the IUD will hang down through your cervix and should be cut to properly fit your vagina. Some women feel dizzy, or strange having a plastic piece in you, but you shouldn’t be able to feel it.
Some women may still have cramps, bleeding, or spotting during the first few days after the insertion. This will continue until uterus adjusts to the device.
You will need to check up with your doctor or caregiver, a few weeks to a month after the IUD is put in. The will check is the device is still in the right place and will make sure there are no signs of infection.
Once IUD is inserted you can swim, exercise, use tampons and you can have intercourse immediately after the insertion. However, for Mirena users, it is recommended that you wait 7 days to a month because of the expulsion rate if quite high in the first month.
If you have an IUD, you should always check for strings right after your period. To check for strings, you have to put a clean finger into your vagina and “find” your cervix. Then, you should be able to feel strings coming out of it.
If you feel those strings, do not tug on them, if you can’t feel them, or you feel the device itself, then you should contact your health practitioner. This could mean that the IUD is not properly positioned or even expelled.
The doctor will perform a pelvic exam or you might even need an ultrasound to locate the device. Expulsion of IUDs most of the time happens during the first few months or when you have your period.
Women who never had children, teenagers, women with the heavy menstrual flow are more likely to expel an IUD in the first couple of months.
An IUD can be removed any time within 5 years for Mirena or within 10 years for ParaGard. The IUD removal procedure is always easier, faster and less painful. However, it must be performed by the doctor.
Never try to remove the device yourself, you might poke or damage your cervix, causing complications. The removal of the device is done pretty much the same way as the insertion.
The doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina, clean it. The, gently pull strings of the IUD and it will come out. IUD arms are flexible, and they will fold up as it comes through the cervix, this might cause cramping. If you wish to continue with the IUD, another one can be inserted within the same visit.
How effective is an IUD?
An IUD is the most reliable form of contraception. It is 99.9% effective immediately after insertion, which is virtual, eliminates the chance of human error.
However, keep in mind that most pregnancies happen when an IUD slides out without you realizing it. Therefore, it is important to check for strings at least once a month after your period. Although the chance to get pregnant with an IUD is extremely low, it does happen.
If you start getting pregnancy symptoms it is very important for you to see the doctor immediately to have an IUD removed. You risk getting birth control implant side effects such as ectopic pregnancy, pelvic infections, miscarriage, etc. if IUD is not removed on time.
How much does Mirena cost?
In the long term, IUDs are the least expensive and reversible contraceptives. The cost of the medical exam, the device itself, the insertion fee and follow up visits are included in the price.
Mirena usually a bit more expensive than ParaGard, but most clinics do accept health insurance. Depending on the clinic the price range for the IUDs are anywhere from $100 – $300 for ParaGard and from $300 – $750 for Mirena.