Copper IUD: longer and heavier periods
Do you want a contraceptive that does not require daily intake like the pill? The IUD may be the right solution, whether you have had children or not. Available in two forms, the IUD (intrauterine device) comes in a copper IUD and a hormonal IUD. In this article, we focus on the copper IUD to understand its impact on your menstrual cycles.
How does the copper IUD work?The copper IUD or IUD (intrauterine device) comes in the form of a flexible plastic T. It measures approximately 3 cm and has a copper wire around the stem. Why copper? Because copper has a radical effect on sperm: it completely neutralizes them and therefore prevents them from reaching the egg. It also blocks fertilization by stopping the fixation of the egg in the uterus. The higher the copper content of your IUD, the more effective its action. In general, the IUD contains between 375 to 380 mm² of copper. This intrauterine device - as your gynecologist or midwife calls it - therefore does not block your menstrual cycles. You continue to ovulate each month and your periods are natural, although longer and heavier, especially in the first few months.
How is a copper IUD inserted?The installation of a copper IUD is organized after a check-up visit to the doctor. If the patient has no contraindications (pregnancy, genital infection, etc.), the insertion of the copper IUD will be scheduled during a second consultation. This intervention, which only lasts a few minutes, is in most cases taken care of by the gynecologist or the midwife and more rarely by the general practitioner. The technique for inserting a copper IUD consists of introducing an inserter into the uterus through the vagina.
The insertion of the copper IUD is usually done during menstruation, ideally on the 4th day, when the flow is less abundant. This allows on the one hand to be sure that a pregnancy is not in progress and on the other hand facilitates the implantation of the device, since the cervix is naturally open. Sometimes this small intervention is a little painful. Luckily, the pain does not exceed 2 or 3 seconds.
Are you dreading this moment? This is completely normal ! But rest assured, the pose only lasts a few minutes and your doctor will probably prescribe anti-inflammatories.
How is the copper IUD removed?Now that the insertion of the copper IUD no longer holds any secrets for you, a question is bothering you. How will the gynecologist go about removing this little 3 cm T placed in the uterus? Good news, the removal of the copper IUD is even faster than its insertion. The gynecologist, the midwife or the general practitioner as the case may be, gently pulls on the threads attached to the end of the IUD using pliers specially provided for this purpose. If the IUD threads are not visible, removal can be done under visual guidance (diagnostic hysteroscopy). Pain level, it can still pinch a little, but often much less than during insertion. If this contraceptive method suits the patient, a new IUD can be implanted during the same consultation.
Who can wear a copper IUD and who can't?The copper IUD can be worn by all women as long as they have had sexual intercourse, including those who have not had children. The main contraindications are:
- pregnancy ;
- genital infection;
- uterine malformation;
- a fibroid;
- copper intolerance;
- unexplained genital bleeding.
If your periods are too heavy, too long and/or too painful, it is likely that your gynecologist will preferably prescribe a hormonal IUD. This progesterone-diffusing IUD causes the lining of the uterus to atrophy resulting in reduced or no periods.
How does the uterus react to the insertion of a copper IUD?If you want to avoid hormones at all costs and if you don't like external, condom-type protection, the copper IUD is certainly the right choice for you. It does, however, have a few drawbacks. Already it causes a chronic inflammatory reaction of the endometrium (lining of the uterus). Even if you don't feel it on a daily basis, you may not be comfortable with the idea. In the 24 hours following the insertion of the copper IUD, your uterus may contract and cause pain that will possibly be stronger than that of your period. You may also feel some discomfort in your lower abdomen as it takes a few days for the uterus to place the copper IUD comfortably.
Finally, among the side effects of the copper IUD, you could have light bleeding during cycles (outside periods). As a precaution, remember to wear your menstrual panties!
Why does the copper IUD make periods heavy and painful?During the 6 months following the installation of your copper IUD, your cycles may be different. Especially your periods which will probably be longer, more painful and more abundant. There is nothing to worry about. It's the usual process: your uterus reacts to this intruder and learns to live together. However, if the pain proves difficult to bear, if you have a fever or if you notice abnormal losses of cervical mucus (white discharge), do not hesitate to consult a gynecologist or a midwife without waiting for the visit. usually after next period or about 3 to 6 weeks after insertion.
What periodic protections during menstruation?All periodic protections are suitable for wearing the copper IUD: cups, tampons, sponges and of course period panties. The technical fabrics that make up the latter are ultra-absorbent and you can completely wear the panties, even when your flow is abundant. But it is also possible that your periods become so heavy that the absorbency of the panties is no longer sufficient all day, especially on the busiest days. If you're worried about overflowing on those days, the menstrual panties + cup or tampon combo is a winner!
To conclude, remember that like all means of contraception (including the pill), the copper IUD is not 100% effective. Every year, 1 in 200 women become pregnant despite everything - there is always a risk, no matter how small. If you want to be sure not to get pregnant, it is therefore advisable to check that your period is not late. Using an app to track your menstrual cycles can be super handy!