Copper IUD and menstruation: menstrual flow and bleeding

Of all the contraceptive methods available today, the IUD has one major advantage: it is not very restrictive. But every woman reacts differently depending on the method of contraception she chooses... How does the copper IUD affect menstruation? We tell you all about it in this article.

What is a copper IUD?

A copper IUD is a T-shaped contraceptive device placed in theuterus by a general practitioner, gynecologist or midwife. It is made of polyethylene and surrounded by a copper wire. A wire protruding a centimetre outside the uterus is used for removal. Women with IUDs can feel this wire, but normally the partner does not. If they do, the doctor can cut the thread shorter. Depending on the model, it can be worn for 3 to 5 years. The copper IUD is a non-hormonal method of contraception, with 99% efficacy. Copper actually blocks fertilization, preventing sperm from reaching the egg and making it impossible for the egg to attach to the uterus.

This intra-uterine device can be used by all women, including those who have never been pregnant. Contrary to popular belief, it is not harmful to health. Different IUD sizes are available. It's a hormone-free contraceptive that preserves the natural cycle. What's more, the IUD has no impact on fertility!

The copper IUD costs 30.50€, 65% of which is reimbursed by social security.

How does the copper IUD affect menstruation?

Like many contraceptive methods, the IUD and menstruation are linked. The IUD causes chronic inflammation of the endometrium. Menstruation with an IUD is therefore different.

The arrival of heavy, sometimes painful periods after insertion

The first periods after insertion of a copper IUD are heavier, longer and sometimes more painful. This is normal and should eventually stabilize after several cycles (around 6 months).

However, if very heavy periods or even bleeding persist, causing pain, fatigue, dizziness, anaemia or other effects, consult your doctor. It may be that this contraceptive method is not suitable for you. In this case, all you need to do is have your health-care professional remove it from the cervix using the threads.

Normal periods after a period of adjustment

Finally, after a period of adjustment, menstruation usually stabilizes. However, they may remain a little heavier than before insertion. For women with a naturally short, very light flow, the difference will be minimal. The copper IUD can also cause brown bleeding one or two days before menstruation. In this case, the duration of menstruation is extended with this contraceptive method.

Bleeding outside the menstrual flow

Several months after fitting an IUD, you may experience blood loss outside the menstrual period, known as spotting. It's nothing to worry about, just give your body time to adapt to this new contraceptive method.
Blood loss can also occur after fitting a copper IUD. It is also possible (but less common) to bleed during insertion. To help you cope with this, you can use a menstrual panty.

When is it not advisable to wear a copper IUD?

The IUD can be worn by all women, whether or not they have had children.
However, this contraceptive method is not recommended for women with certain health concerns:

  • a malformation of the uterus or, more generally, an abnormality of the uterine cavity, which would make it impossible to insert an IUD.
  • a genital infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes, whether ongoing, recurrent or less than 3 months old.
  • cervical cancer
  • genital tuberculosis
  • risk of pregnancy or pregnancy
  • recent childbirth (wait 4 weeks after delivery)
  • an abortion less than 3 months old
  • copper sensitivity
  • a high risk of STI
  • an STI less than 3 months old
  • unexplained vaginal discharge (which could indicate a serious pathology).
  • The presence of copper in the IUD can affect zinc levels in the body, sometimes requiring supplements to maintain an optimal balance, and can result in more pronounced acne.

What are the advantages of a copper IUD compared with a hormonal device?

There are several advantages over a hormonal intrauterine device:

  • The first is that it contains no hormones. Very interesting for women with contraindications to hormonal treatments.
  • Secondly, the copper IUD remains in place for 3 to 5 years, which frees up a mental burden that can be difficult to cope with when taking the pill, for example.

In conclusion, it's crucial to take your gynecologist's recommendations into account when choosing a contraceptive that's right for your life and your body. Although the contraceptive pill is widely used, copper IUDs offer a remarkably effective non-hormonal alternative. Their mode of action, based on the insertion of a T-shaped intrauterine device, involves professional removal by a midwife or doctor. The copper in these devices acts by blocking fertilization, offering a high level of contraceptive efficacy. However, it is essential to note that the use of IUDs can lead to side effects such as menstrual pain and prolonged bleeding. It is therefore essential to consult a healthcare professional to assess the duration of use and possible effects on your menstrual cycle and uterine health. By making informed decisions and listening to your doctor's advice, you can choose the contraceptive that best suits your lifestyle and overall well-being.

FAQs on the copper coil and menstruation

When do I start menstruating after fitting a copper coil?

The first menstrual period after insertion of a copper IUD is not delayed, and usually arrives on the date originally planned. For 6 months after insertion, periods may be heavier and more painful. Immediately after insertion, you may also experience some bleeding.

How can I avoid menstruation with a copper IUD?

As this is a natural, hormone-free contraceptive method, it does not suppress the different menstrual phases, as can hormonal IUDs, implants or certain pills.

What are the disadvantages of a copper IUD?

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