My experience with ParaGard copper IUD. The good, the bad, and the ugly (but mostly ugly).
*Note: I am NOT a medical professional and I am simply relaying my experience with ParaGard in hopes that it will be helpful for other women out there who experienced the same side effects that I did.*
When I had my son in 2016, I knew I did NOT want another baby in the near future (if ever). At my first followup appointment after giving birth my midwife prescribed me the mini pill. A "mini pill" is a progesterone only birth control. I suffer from migraines and it is not recommenced that women who have migraines take any type of birth control with estrogen as it can increase your chances of getting a blood clot.
My experience with the mini pill was ok, but not great. I had to set a timer on my phone and take my pill at the EXACT same time every day. If I was even just an hour late, I would start spotting and my cycle would be completely thrown off for the rest of the month.
After dealing with this for over two years I made the decision to try something else. I wanted to try the ParaGard IUD. I chose ParaGard because it was hormone free. It is a copper IUD & copper is toxic to sperm and eggs so therefor, it prevents pregnancy. The best part about ParaGard is it lasts for 10 years. In September 2019 I called my doctor and got my IUD inserted.
WARNING: TMI section coming ahead! If you can't handle honesty and period talk, I'd suggest you stop reading here.
My first period with the IUD was pretty short. It lasted about 4 days and wasn't super heavy. Unfortunately, this did not last. Every cycle thereafter was EXTREMELY heavy. Even when I was off birth control for the year that it took me to get pregnant, I NEVER had a period like this. EVER. I would bleed through a super plus tampon in 45 minutes. I couldn't leave the house without packing a couple extra pair of pants with me. It was BAD. My periods also went from 4 days on average to 7-9 days depending. I passed so many clots I was convinced a few times that I was unknowingly pregnant and was having a miscarriage. I also never experienced period cramps before but with my IUD, they were almost unbearable.
I tried to convince myself that my cycles would get better over time. The freedom of not having to have an alarm go off on my phone every day to take a pill was freeing. My migraines also virtually disappeared after getting off the pill which was a miracle in itself. My family and I try to live a clean, healthy lifestyle as much as possible and staying away from synthetic hormones was liberating.
But the changes in my cycle wasn't even the worst part. In October of 2019, one month after insertion, I started to develop a slight rash around my eyes. I chalked it up to just having an eczema flair up, but it never went away. By February it was SO BAD that it gotten to the point where my face constantly hurt. The skin on my face was raised and constantly inflamed. I had lost every ounce of self confidence that I had. But my skin issues didn't stop there. That same month my body would break out in a random raised rash and I would start itching like crazy, specifically on my legs. I now have permanent scars on my legs from scratching so much. The only thing that helped would for me to take a Benadryl just so it would help me sleep and it took the edge off the itching.
And then the cystic acne started. Even when I was a hormonal teenager, I NEVER suffered from acne. I had a doctor at an express care in California tell me that the acne and the itching was just a "coincidence" and was not caused by my IUD. She said my IUD was not hormonal so there was no possible way it could ever cause these skin issues. My face was covered in cystic acne. Once one would pop up, it would linger for about 10 - 15 days before it left a small faint scar on my face.
I worked with dermatologists who put me on 60 days of an antibiotic plus 3 prescription topical medications for my face. They helped slightly, but I was still suffering. I stopped wearing makeup in March of 2020 thinking maybe something in my already vegan cosmetics was causing the flair up. I changed all of our laundry detergent to the most sensitive and scent free formula I could find. I cut out dairy and gluten thinking maybe I developed a food allergy. Nothing gave me relief.
In September of 2020 my gut kept telling me that my IUD was causing all of my issues and ailments. I joined a few IUD groups on Facebook and decided to search these groups (with over 12k members, mind you) to see if anyone else was experiencing the same issues as I was. (Before anyone jumps down my throat for seeking "medical advice" from Facebook: back off. I was constantly being fed the same mantra from doctor after doctor and was seeking feedback from other women who ACTUALLY had experience with this IUD in their body. If you went almost a year constantly in pain and itching to the point where you break skin and cause scarring, you would do the same.)
I was actually shocked by the number of women who had the SAME exact skin issues as I did. There were at least a couple hundred women who had posted photos throughout the years in this group with rashes and acne that looked exactly what I was suffering from. I was in complete shock. I asked a few of them how they stopped the rash, acne, and itching and they all had the same response: They had their IUD removed. I talked it over with my husband (who had been my rock through this whole experience) and we both agreed that even though we weren't ready for another baby, taking that chance and removing my IUD was worth a shot. I need my confidence back.
November 2020 2 months post removal
I had my IUD removed in September 2020 and I don't regret it for a single second. My periods are back to normal and last about 5 days. My skin issues are almost completely GONE. My acne and rash on my face is gone. I only occasionally get the itchy body rash, but it is much more bearable and only happens once to twice a month. I started taking a Zinc supplement twice a day as Copper depletes the Zinc in your body, and I truly feel that has helped my skin issues immensely.
If you're contemplating getting an IUD, I recommend getting input from other women on their personal experiences before doing so (along with talking to your doctor, of course). Every one's experience is different and it is important to weigh all the risks and benefits before doing so.