- intrauterine copper non-hormonal contraceptive, dubbed as copper t-380a, is the best alternative to hormonal common contraceptive implants such as Mirena. People commonly misspell this IUD as ParaGuard. But the correct name is ParaGard T-380A and it is the only non-hormonal, 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 1970’s 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 1970’s 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.
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 gives 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 the 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 to have the device removed. Once it is out, your fertility returns within 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 lease 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 the 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.
Where to get it? How much does it 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 accidently 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 like to read more about side-effects, you can check out Birth Control Implant Side Effects.