Copper intrauterine devices (IUDs) are often promoted as a safer, non-hormonal approach to birth control, but how safe are they?
The so-called “non-hormonal copper IUD” is actually an endocrine-disrupting plastic device wrapped with a coil of copper that does in fact influence hormones, despite not releasing any hormones itself.
The coil around the IUD emits copper ions that create an inflammatory response in the lining of the uterus and inhibit the binding sites of the hormones progesterone and estrogen.
Implanting a foreign plastic object into a woman’s reproductive organ to intentionally cause inflammation and block hormones in order to impair fertility is not an ideal approach to birth control.
The presence of copper also disrupts the natural microbiome of the vagina, which can lead to recurring yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections and other local adverse events.
Additionally, copper IUDs are associated with increased menstrual bleeding and abdominal pain, with one study finding copper IUDs increase menstrual blood loss by about 50% over pre-insertion levels, increasing the likelihood of anemia.
Copper IUDs can also lead to copper toxicity in the body.
Symptoms may include headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, black stool, abdominal cramping, jaundice, fainting, anxiety, irritability, difficulty paying attention, depression, sadness and other mood imbalances.
Pain and cramping outside of the typical menstrual period window is also a common side effect experienced with copper IUDs.
Other potential serious side effects of a copper IUD include perforation of the uterine wall, as well as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can present as pain during sex, fatigue, abnormal vaginal discharge, abnormal uterine bleeding during or after sex, bleeding between periods and fever or chills.
In the unlikely instance someone does become pregnant with a copper IUD, they are at high risk for an ectopic pregnancy. If an ectopic pregnancy occurs, early stage treatment includes` administration of the chemotherapy drug methotrexate, while surgery is required for later stage treatment.
Up to 10% of copper IUD users may have the device spontaneously expel itself and 25% have the copper IUD removed within the first year, with some women experiencing internal injuries and uterine damage when having the device removed.
The safest and most effective approach to natural, non-hormonal birth control is a combination of the Natural Cycles App in conjunction with intravaginal neem oil injected five minutes prior to sexual intercourse.
In clinical study, Natural Cycles App has been found to be 93% effective against pregnancy, while neem oil was found to be 96.2% effective against pregnancy in a 2018 study involving 238 women.
The integration of both approaches together would be a significantly effective method of birth control, as well as not only safe, but actually beneficial to vaginal health. Neem oil has been found to decrease instances of leucorrhea, UTIs, STDs, yeast infections, candida, gonorrhea, genital herpes and HIV.
Moving off of disruptive, toxic birth controls is one of the most important steps a woman can take in reclaiming control over her health and sovereignty over her own body.