Copper IUD

Quick Facts

Most effective

Hormone-free

Effective up to 10 years

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

Doesn’t reduce your chances of getting an STI

Can be used as emergency contraception

A copper IUD

More about the Copper IUD

  • IUD stands for “intrauterine device”.
  • The copper IUD is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic wrapped in thin copper wire.
  • This is the only hormone-free IUD you can get in the US.
  • The copper protects you from pregnancy.
  • It works for up to 10 years, but your provider can take it out at any time.
  • The copper IUD does not protect you from HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you don’t want to worry about taking birth control, this can be a great choice. Once it’s in, there’s nothing more for you to do and it lasts for up to 10 years.

How the Copper IUD Works

The copper in the IUD kills sperm cells before they can get to an egg. If there’s no sperm, you can’t get pregnant. Talk to your provider if you think you might want a copper IUD. They will ask about your medical history and give you a physical exam. They will also ask questions to make sure an IUD is right for you. When you decide to have the copper IUD, they will insert it during an office visit. That’s it!

You may feel some cramps or dizziness when you first get an IUD. They should go away with rest or pain medicine.

You should check once a month for small strings that hangs down in your vagina. The strings are there so the IUD can be taken out later. Don’t pull on the strings or you could move the IUD out of place. If you don’t want to check for the strings yourself, your provider can do it for you. This happens one month after you get the IUD and once a year after that.

You will need to use a backup method of birth control, e.g., a condom, for the first week after a copper IUD is inserted.

A uterus with an IUD inside
Green donut chart showing 99%. The title says "Over 99% effective"

Effectiveness

The copper IUD is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means that less than 1 out of 100 people who use it will get pregnant in a year. It is one of the most effective methods of birth control. Unlike most other methods, you don’t have to do anything once it is in.

Benefits

  • You don’t have to remember to take it every day.
  • Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment.
  • Your birth control is taken care of for up to 10 years.
  • If you want to get pregnant, you can have the IUD taken out at any time.
  • It can be safe for people with high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • It can be used while breastfeeding.
  • It can be used by people who can’t take estrogen.

Your provider can talk with you more about the benefits and if the copper IUD is your best choice.

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A young woman holds up her hands as if weighing options and looks thoughtful

Side Effects

The most common side effects are heavier, longer periods and spotting between periods. Most of the time this gets better within a year. Some people have backaches and cramps. These will likely go away in a few months.

Most side effects go away on their own, so give it some time. If your side effects don’t improve after 3 months, talk with your Family PACT provider about switching methods. Just make sure to start a new method right away so that you stay protected.

IUDs don’t protect you from HIV or other STIs. Condoms and internal condoms do, so to stay safe use one at the same time as your IUD.

Very rare serious side effects are:

  • The IUD can slip out of the uterus without you knowing it.
  • You can get a pelvic infection.
  • The IUD can tear the muscle of the uterus.

 

Family PACT Coverage

If you are eligible, Family PACT covers the cost of the copper IUD. A provider can help you decide if a copper IUD is the best choice for you. Search for a nearby Family PACT provider: click “Find Providers” in the top right-hand corner of this page.​

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