Image: Paragard effectiveness

The Paragard intrauterine device (IUD) is becoming a more popular method of birth control among women these days. With greater than 99% efficacy at preventing pregnancy and the ability to remain effective for several years, its rising popularity should come as no surprise.

However, in some cases, this medical device has the risk of breaking during removal. In fact, several women have filed a Paragard lawsuit against the manufacturers of the device. According to plaintiffs, they suffered from serious side effects and complications after Paragard broke during removal.

In fact, some of them were even required to undergo a complicated medical procedure to retrieve the broken pieces of the IUD. However, in cases where the fragments of the device have become so deeply embedded in the woman’s uterus, a full hysterectomy or surgical removal of the uterus may be needed.

Needless to say, these complications can have devastating physical and psychological effects on a woman. And although it’s generally known to be safe and effective at preventing pregnancy, it can also malfunction at times. When this happens, there’s a risk of unwanted pregnancy while on the IUD.

Although rare, pregnancy with Paragard can be life-threatening. Read on to learn more about the efficacy of Paragard and in what cases it can lose its contraceptive abilities.

What is Paragard and how does it work?

Paragard is the only copper IUD available in the United States today.

Unlike hormonal IUDs available in the country such as Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena that release small amounts of the hormone progestin, Paragard is a non hormonal IUD. It doesn’t make use of hormones to prevent pregnancy.

What it does, instead, is release copper ions through the copper wire wrapped around it. Copper is toxic to sperm and creates an environment that’s too hostile for the sperm to survive. Therefore, this prevents the sperm from reaching an egg, ultimately preventing pregnancy.

Another difference between the two types of IUDs is that hormonal IUDs can be used anywhere between three to seven years, depending on the brand. A non hormonal IUD like Paragard, on the other hand, can remain effective for 12 years.

Furthermore, with hormonal IUDs, periods tend to be less heavy and less painful. Conversely, non hormonal IUDs like Paragard are associated with prolonged menstrual bleeding and cramping.

How effective is it?

According to Paragard’s website, the copper IUD is over 99% effective at preventing unintended pregnancy. This means that out of 1,000 women implanted with the device, five may get pregnant. Paragard is also immediately effective right after IUD insertion.

In fact:

It’s deemed as the most effective method of emergency contraception. If you get it after five days of having unprotected sex, it remains to be over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

However, one major disadvantage of IUDs is that they don’t protect you from sexually transmitted disease (STD). With that said, you may want to use backup contraception like condoms to lower your chance of getting or spreading STDs.

Is it reversible?

Yes, Paragard is a reversible contraceptive method. In fact, along with hormonal implants, IUDs are also referred to as long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). This means that IUDs remain effective for longer periods of time even without user compliance.

Furthermore, being a reversible contraception means that if you’ve had a change of heart and decide to become pregnant, you can easily have it removed. Normally, if there are no complications, women should easily be able to get pregnant following IUD removal.

However, in some cases, defects with the intrauterine contraception can cause infertility in women. According to recently filed complaints in the Paragard lawsuit, during IUD removal, the arms of some devices break apart, leaving fragments of the IUD inside the woman’s uterus.

Once this occurs, the risk of dangerous side effects rises dramatically. One of these is infertility.

Contraceptive Failure With Paragard

According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), the copper IUD has a failure rate of 0.8%. This means that although it’s considered rare, Paragard can lose its efficacy in certain instances.

One major reason for this is when the IUD has slipped partially or completely out of the uterus. This is also known as device expulsion. At times, however, it may be difficult to tell if your IUD has moved out of place. This is especially true if it only moved ever so slightly.

However, there are some signs and symptoms of a displaced IUD you should watch out for. These include:

  • Not being able to feel the IUD strings with your fingers
  • The strings are longer or shorter compared to when you last checked
  • Being able to feel the plastic part of the IUD
  • Your partner feels the IUD during sex
  • Heavy or unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Fever, which is possibly a sign of infection

Several studies have suggested that the risk of experiencing contraceptive failure with Paragard is higher in women younger than 25 years old who received the IUD. It is believed that a low-lying or malpositioned IUD can largely contribute to the failure of the device.

What happens if it fails?

When an IUD fails, it loses its contraceptive abilities. Therefore, women who experience this are more likely to become pregnant.

And if you do conceive while using Paragard, you may be at a higher risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube.

And although this type of pregnancy is rare in IUD users, it can be life-threatening. This is because if the egg has grown in the fallopian tube and the tube bursts, it can lead to severe internal bleeding. This is a potential medical emergency that needs immediate surgery.

According to the International Journal of Women’s Health, an estimated 5 out of 10,000 women with copper IUDs experience ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy each year.

If a pregnancy occurs while an IUD is in place, here are some symptoms you should be wary of:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Lower back pain
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • Pain on one side of the abdomen

It’s worth noting, however, that because Paragard helps prevent most pregnancies, the overall risk of suffering from the complication is lower compared to sexually active women who don’t make use of contraception.

Risks And Complications Associated With Paragard

Paragard IUD use has been linked to a wide array of side effects. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Spotting
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Severe menstrual pain and heavy bleeding

Worsened cramping can occur with the copper IUD mainly because of its mechanism of action. Because the copper in Paragard causes an inflammatory reaction in the uterus and menstrual cramps are a sign of inflammation, this method through which Paragard prevents pregnancy can worsen cramps.

These common side effects are mostly experienced within the first three to six months after IUD insertion. However, each person is different and the same can also be said about how your body may respond to the device inside you.

Therefore, if you notice that these symptoms don’t subside or even worsen after six months, talk to your doctor immediately.

On the other hand, there are also more serious risks and potential complications that are associated with Paragard use. These include:

  • Uterine perforation
  • Device expulsion
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Difficult removals

Uterine Perforation

Perforation occurs when the IUD punctures the uterine wall. Because IUDs are foreign objects that tend to be sharp and pointy, they can cause serious damage and infection in tissues once they puncture the walls of the uterus.

This complication also lessens the effectiveness of the IUD at preventing pregnancy as well.

Device Expulsion

Expulsion occurs when the device falls out of the uterus, either partially or fully. Women who have never been pregnant may be more likely to have their IUDs expelled.

This also increases the odds of a woman getting pregnant while on the IUD.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

PID is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. Women have a six-fold increased risk of developing PID within the first 20 days after the insertion of IUD. This occurs because the insertion procedure can allow bacteria to enter the reproductive tract.

If left untreated, PID can lead to complications such as infertility, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, and the development of abscesses in the reproductive tract.

Difficult Removals

The main reason behind Paragard being the target of many lawsuits filed across the country is because its difficult removal can cause one of the device’s arms to break during the procedure.

When this happens, pieces of the device left in the uterus can cause severe pain and other serious side effects in women. In fact, if a complicated medical procedure isn’t enough to remove all the fragments of the IUD inside, some women may require a full hysterectomy or surgical removal of the uterus.

What You Can Do

In general, intrauterine devices (IUDs) are regarded as a safe and effective birth control method. In the case of the Paragard IUD, however, many women have complained about how the device is prone to breaking during removal.

This can cause serious injuries and complications in women. As a result, many of them have already filed a Paragard lawsuit to hold Teva Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Paragard, accountable for the injuries they sustained after receiving the device.

These often debilitating side effects can also cause devastating physical and psychological consequences in women. If you or a loved one suffered the same fate with the use of Paragard, know that you’re not alone.

We’re here to help you — and many other women like you — seek justice through litigation. Contact us today if you believe you or a loved one suffered from injuries due to Paragard IUD use.

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