From medications to birth control methods, weight gain is a side effect people like to avoid at all costs. Putting on extra weight can also be an issue for women of all ages.
Add to that the other potential side effects that many birth control methods have and it’s easy to think you’re in for a disaster. These side effects can also range from mild to serious. For instance, Paragard, the only copper IUD available in the United States, has been stirring up controversy for years now due to its rather serious side effects.
According to plaintiffs who have filed a Paragard lawsuit, the copper IUD is prone to breaking inside a woman’s body during removal. When this happens, the risk of additional side effects rises dramatically.
Moreover, the manufacturer of Paragard allegedly never disclosed some important data about the device’s numerous complications. Should copper IUD users be concerned about weight gain, too?
Continue reading the article to find out.
What is an IUD?
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped plastic device that a nurse or doctor inserts into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Each year, less than one percent of those implanted with an IUD get pregnant.
That said, it is believed that IUDs are one of the most effective birth control options available for women. There are two types of IUDs: copper and hormonal IUD. While both are said to be safe and effective at preventing pregnancy, they have some key differences in fulfilling their roles.
Types of IUDs
As mentioned, there’s only one type of copper IUD available in the country and it’s called Paragard. It releases copper ions from the copper wire coiled around its stem. Copper is a natural spermicide. It changes the way the sperm moves so they’re not able to reach the egg.
After insertion, copper IUDs like Paragard can stay for up to 12 years.
On the other hand, a hormonal IUD releases amounts of a progestin hormone known as levonorgestrel into your uterus. These hormones thicken cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Some brands of hormonal birth control IUDs include Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, and Liletta.
These IUDs can be used anywhere from three to seven years. All types of IUD products have a string attached to make sure it’s in place. This string is also helpful in removing the device in the future.
Another advantage of the intrauterine device is that it’s a form of long-acting reversible contraceptive. This means that it can be removed anytime once you decide you want to become pregnant.
However, as with any other form of birth control, an IUD also comes with some disadvantages. One major disadvantage is that it doesn’t offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you’re at an increased risk of contracting one, you’ll need to use a backup birth control method like condoms as well.
Copper IUDs and Weight Gain
Weight gain isn’t listed as a side effect on Paragard’s label. However, a study published in Contraception investigating weight changes in Brazilian women using the Paragard IUD revealed that weight increased with the use of the device, particularly in older women.
It was also indicated that the participants in the study gained weight during their reproductive years regardless of IUD insertion. With that said, weight gain observed in the study may have been related to age.
However, other studies tend to have conflicting findings. For instance, a more recent study published in the European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care compared weight gain in users of hormonal and nonhormonal IUD. The study found that those who use both types of birth control gained a significant amount of weight in a span of 10 years.
The Underlying Cause
Although IUD users in some studies experienced weight gain, it’s not fully understood if the gain was due to the device or other natural reasons, including aging and other lifestyle factors like diet and exercise.
Because Paragard IUD is hormone-free, it’s also believed that it doesn’t have many side effects at all compared to its hormonal counterpart. However, this wasn’t the case for hundreds of women who have filed a Paragard lawsuit. According to complaints filed in the court, aside from being prone to breakage, the copper birth control device is also linked to other complications.
For instance, there’s a risk of Paragard causing an infection in the pelvis. This is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It occurs when bacteria enter the uterus during IUD insertion. It’s also possible for the IUD to fall out. Pieces of a broken Paragard device can also puncture the walls of the uterus.
This can be painful and can cause heavy bleeding. In some cases, women who have experienced this need to undergo a full hysterectomy or surgical removal of the uterus to extract the remaining pieces of the IUD left inside a woman’s body.
How do hormonal IUDs cause weight gain?
The hormonal IUD products Mirena and Liletta list weight gain as their potential side effect. In one clinical study, 5.7% of Liletta users reported weight gain while on the IUD. It’s important to note, however, that most people who use all brands of hormonal birth control IUDs said their weight increased.
But every person is different. Therefore, just because others may have these issues with certain products doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same, too.
Moreover, researchers aren’t even certain of the reason behind users gaining extra weight while on IUD. That’s because there aren’t many studies that can offer a clear answer to this question.
If weight gain occurs with hormonal IUDs, it’s most likely not an increase in body fat. Instead, progestin, the hormone used in the IUD, can cause an increase in water retention. This makes your body hold onto excess water, causing bloating and adding around five pounds to your weight.
What should I do if I gain weight with IUD?
If you’ve noticed any form of weight gain with your IUD, it’s important to evaluate your current diet, eating habits, physical activity, and stress levels for any clues on why you’re gaining extra weight.
It’s also worth noting that subtle changes in weight, independent of having an IUD, may not be an immediate cause for concern, as this could be normal.
Consider making some lifestyle changes to avoid this side effect after getting an IUD. Increased physical activity, healthy eating, and other weight loss methods could help minimize the chances of weight changes after receiving an IUD.
However, if there’s significant weight gain to the point that it affects your daily routine, or if the lifestyle changes you’ve made don’t seem to help, talk to your doctor for medical advice.
Each person responds differently to different birth control options. Therefore, you may find that an IUD is not the best form of contraception for you. But there are other contraceptive options to consider.
Some of the most common birth control options include:
- Birth control pills
- Birth control injections, like Depo-Provera
- The contraceptive implant, like Nexplanon
- Vaginal rings, like NuvaRing
Hormonal contraceptives often get a bad reputation for causing weight gain. However, the birth control shot, Depo-Provera, is the only form of contraception that’s been linked to weight gain.
If you’re looking to avoid this side effect, you might want to stay away from any injectable contraceptive.
Meanwhile, some birth control pills like Yasmin and Seasonique contain both estrogen and progestin hormones. Others like Errin and Camila only contain progestin. Just like progestin, estrogen can also cause temporary weight gain in some women because of water retention.
Some nonhormonal birth control methods include condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps. Depending on how your body responds to these contraceptive options, you may need to try different brands before narrowing down your options and finding the product that works best for you.
You should also consult your healthcare provider as they may help you decide on this matter.
The Bottom Line
A copper IUD may be the best contraceptive option for women who want to avoid the side effects of hormonal birth control. However, a copper IUD isn’t completely foolproof. Some complications are also present with Paragard use. These include heavier menstrual bleeding, pelvic infection, ectopic pregnancy, and problems during device removal, among others.
However, more research is still needed to confirm if the copper IUD can indeed cause weight gain. Making lifestyle changes including increased physical activity and healthier eating habits may help reduce your risk of putting on extra weight.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re interested in using a copper IUD but are worried about the side effects of weight gain. You can also try to figure out the best contraceptive option that works for you with your doctor.
What You Can Do
Although more large-scale studies are needed to confirm whether copper IUDs can cause you to gain weight, there are plenty of other side effects that should be expected with Paragard use.
These side effects can range from mild to rare yet serious ones. For instance, it can cause cramping and pain after insertion, spotting bleeding, and changes in your menstrual cycle pattern. Some of the more serious side effects of Paragard include difficulty removing the device, infection, scarring, pelvic infection, and ectopic pregnancy, among others.
Women who have experienced these complications have already filed a Paragard lawsuit. If you or a loved one experienced the same, you may have a case against the manufacturer of Paragard. Contact us today to know more about your legal options.