How Effective is Paragard?

I’m not sure if I’m at the right place but, I hope that you can help me. I had my second child back in July of ’07. I had the ten year Paragard put in. Since then I’ve obviously not gotten pregnant anymore. I’ve recently been intimate with my fiancee for the fist time(father of my kids and I separated about a year and a half ago) and I feel strange. I have no energy, I feel fatigued, I feel extremely tired, very sleepy, to sum it up, if I didn’t already have kids, I’d just stay in bed all day or I’d sit in the dark. I’m not depressed, I just don’t feel up to anything. I had just gotten off of my period two days before I was intimate with him. I’m not sure if that plays a factor in any of this. If i were pregnant it wouldn’t be a real problem it’s just that I know that’s it’s still too soon to try to find out. My question is, What are the REAL odds of getting pregnant while on Paragard? If it is possible, is it harmful to the baby?

Thank you for your question. Paraguard is one name for an intrauterine device (IUD) that is T-shaped and covered with copper wire, also known as a “Copper T”.

All IUDs work by interfering with the movement of the sperm toward the egg, thus preventing the sperm from joining with an egg. IUDs also change the lining of the uterus, making it inhospitable for implantation. The small amount of copper that is released by this device seems to increase its effectiveness: overall it prevents around 99% of pregnancies, when it is working properly.

The main problems that users might have include heavier periods and there may be higher chance of infections, mainly where a woman has more than one partner (or her partner has more than one partner). An infection will usually cause pain and sometimes vaginal discharge, but may not be easy to detect. If an IUD user changes partners or is aware of other partners of her current partner, it is very important to have a check with the doctor.

An IUD can also slip out, and this may not be obvious. It is very important to check the IUD at least once per month (after your period, which is when it is most likely to slip out). You need to be able to feel the strings in your cervix to be sure it is in place.

Obviously if it slips out, there is no contraceptive effects and pregnancy is possible. When pregnancy occurs with an IUD, there is a higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the tubes. An ectopic pregnancy can cause serious complications and needs to be diagnosed as soon as possible by a doctor.

I would recommend that you check whether your IUD is in place. If you are unsure, see your doctor. It is in place, your chance of pregnancy is low, although not impossible. The timing you describe – soon after the end of your period- is likely to be a fertile time. The fatigue you describe can be a symptom of pregnancy usually coming on two to three weeks after conception

 If a pregnancy occurs with an IUD in place, you would need to discuss whether to remove it, with the risk of miscarriage, or leave it in , which can also cause miscarriage. Studies suggest that ¾ of pregnancies with an IUD have no complications.

I would highly recommend a visit to your doctor to see if your IUD is in place, and possibly to have a pregnancy test. See below for more information and resources.

RESOURCES

Information about IUDs including Paraguard

http://contraception.about.com/od/iud/p/IUD.htm

http://www.fpq.com.au/pdf/Fs_IUD.pdf

Fate of pregnancy with IUD in position (research study) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1210882

See also my website for a natural fertility package, including chart and information to help you to follow your cycle and know your fertile times. (Available after April 2010)

www.sarahjbuckley.com