ParaGard® is a brand of contraceptive intrauterine device, or IUD. It has the shape of a "T" and is composed of several lengths of copper wire that make the environment inside the uterus hostile to sperm; therefore, fertilization of the ovule is blocked. The device also has two monofilament chains that help in its detection and elimination. Once placed the ParaGard IUD remains active and does not have to be removed for up to 10 years.
The ParaGard IUD prevents pregnancy without the need for medications or barrier methods. It is ideal for women who have contraindications to hormonal contraceptives or who are in search of a long-term, reversible form of contraception. Unlike condoms, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
For safety, the ParaGard IUD should be placed in the womb by a doctor and the best time to do so is at the start of menstruation. The cervix dilates a bit at this time, and menstrual bleeding is a very accurate indicator that the patient is not pregnant. Once the device is inserted, some patients experience mild cramping. It can also make the menstrual flow heavier.
The ParaGard IUD can be used for up to 10 years and can be removed by a doctor at any time. Adverse effects or the desire to get pregnant are typical reasons for doing so. Removing the IUD is much easier than inserting one and the steps are similar to the tasks performed in a normal gynecological exam. The doctor identifies and grabs the IUD strings, removes it and then discards it. Some women experience a slight amount of discomfort, while the IUD is removed, but most people feel nothing.
If symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding or cramping occurred while the IUD was in place, the symptoms resolve once it is removed. Also, once the ParaGard IUD is removed from the uterus it is possible to get pregnant.