An IUD, which stands for intrauterine device, is a form of long-lasting and reversible birth control that is more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Over the past two decades, IUDs have exploded in popularity with women opting to have the devices inserted in their uterus. One of the most popular types of IUDs is called ParaGard.
ParaGard was first approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in 1984. Since then, the FDA has expanded the use of ParaGard to include more women, such as those who have never had children.
As more and more women are opting to get an IUD like ParaGard, the number of reports of unexpected side effects and complications have grown. Learn more about how ParaGard is different than Mirena, its side effects, and why lawyers are investigating lawsuits.
ParaGard is a small T-shaped device that offers an alternative to birth control pills or other prophylactics. It is roughly 1.26 inches by 1.42 inches and is made out of a combination of soft, flexible plastic and copper. A copper wire is wrapped around the T-shaped device.
The device is implanted through a nonsurgical procedure by a doctor or nurse. According to Planned Parenthood, the device is placed using a special inserter that goes through the opening of the cervix into the uterus. The placement can take just a few minutes and may come with some cramping or pain.
Once inserted, the device lasts up to 10 years before needing replacement; however, it can be removed by a healthcare professional at any time. Although highly effective at preventing pregnancy, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
When women are looking at an IUD, the top two choices are typically ParaGard and Mirena. The two share many similarities — including the basic design of the device — but function differently.
ParaGard is currently the only nonhormonal copper IUD available in the United States. The device releases copper to interfere with sperm movement, egg fertilization, and potentially implantation.
Mirena uses a hormone called levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancies. The device is believed to work in three ways: by stopping sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg, thinning the lining of the uterus, and thickening cervical mucus. Mirena is only intended to be used for up to 5 years. It has also been approved for use in treating heavy menstrual bleeding.
Like all IUDs, ParaGard carries risks. Even if the device is implanted correctly, there is a 1 percent chance a woman could get pregnant within the first year of implantation. If a pregnancy does occur while the device is implanted, it could result in an ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is when an egg is fertilized outside the uterus, according to Mayo Clinic. In most of these pregnancies, the embryo attaches inside the fallopian tubes, but it can also attach in the cervix, ovaries, or abdomen. If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can cause internal bleeding, infection, and even death.
ParaGard has also been linked to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection that occurs in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and other parts of the female reproductive organs. Untreated PID could result in scar tissue and other damage to the reproductive organs. Other complications like ectopic pregnancy, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, abscess, and death can follow PID.
Those implanted with the ParaGard may suffer from partial or total perforation of the uterine wall when placed by a physician. Perforation can go undetected for a while and result in other injuries like infection or organ damage. In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove the device and repair the damage.
Unexpected expulsion or difficult removals can also occur with ParaGard. If the device becomes stuck in the uterus, surgery may be needed to remove it. Other times, ParaGard could come out fully or partially on its own.
Mounting evidence suggests that IUDs may be associated with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), sometimes called pseudotumor cerebri (PTC). This is a disorder in which the brain suffers symptoms related to brain tumors. The pressure building in the brain could cause debilitating headaches and even permanent blindness.
ParaGard has yet to be directly connected to an increased risk of brain injury. However, other IUDs like Mirena have been linked to the brain condition.
Millions of women have used ParaGard safely and effectively for years. But, some women have reported severe complications like perforation or pelvic inflammatory disease that required costly surgeries.
That’s why women around the country have been looking into whether they have a case against the makers of ParaGard for failing to make a safe product and notifying the public of potential dangers like brain injuries.
If you or a loved one have been injured by the birth control device, contact a qualified attorney immediately.
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