Paragard and Copper Toxicity: Is There a Connection? • Drugwatcher.org (2022)

September 9, 2021/ Erica Davies / News / 0 comments

Some women prefer a nonhormonal, copper IUD like Paragard because it does not have the countless side effects that its hormonal counterpart has.

Although partly true, that’s not to say that Paragard IUD does not come with some frustrations. In fact, women who have filed a Paragard lawsuit claim that the device is prone to breaking during removal. This leaves women needing more complicated medical procedures to remove the broken pieces of the IUD inside their bodies.

Aside from this known complication, however, the copper birth control device can also cause other side effects. Lately, it has even been involved in talks among women with certain medical conditions that make it harder for them to eliminate excess copper in their bodies.

In this article, we will discuss whether there really is a connection between Paragard and copper toxicity. But before that, let’s get you familiarized first with some helpful terms.

What is Copper Toxicity?

Copper toxicity can result from a buildup of too much copper by consuming contaminated food and water sources. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Anemia
  • Burning sensation in the abdomen
  • Yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Metallic taste in your mouth
  • Kidney failure

Copper is a trace mineral, which means our body needs it in very small amounts. Normally, copper is bonded to the proteins in your body. Sometimes, however, it becomes unbound or free. In which case, it can be unhealthy and toxic.

Copper toxicity can either be inherited or acquired. Inherited copper toxicity comes in the form of a rare genetic disorder called Wilson’s disease. On the other hand, acquired copper toxicity can come from consuming copper salts or copper sulfate. Copper salts can form on unused cooking items such as pots or pans.

They can also form in water pipes, potentially contaminating the water. It’s also possible to get copper toxicity from eating lots of copper-rich food or taking copper dietary supplements.

In severe cases, too much copper can be fatal. It can work its way through your organs and potentially build up in your brain, lungs, and liver.

Wilson’s Disease

Wilson’s disease is a rare inherited disorder where excessive amounts of copper accumulate in your brain, liver, and other vital organs. The copper buildup happens because this condition prevents the body from removing extra copper. The liver of a person who has Wilson’s disease does not release copper into the bile as it should.

Most patients with the disease are diagnosed between ages 5 and 35. However, the condition can affect younger and older people, too.

Signs and symptoms of Wilson’s disease include:

  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Feeling tired
  • Poor appetite
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty walking
  • Impaired thinking ability
  • Personality changes
  • Uncontrolled movements or muscle stiffness

If left untreated, Wilson’s disease can be fatal. There is no cure for the disorder, but it is manageable. Treatment options include medications, chelation therapy, and avoiding copper-rich food.

Copper IUD and Zinc Imbalance

Our bodies are at its best when it is in a state of balance. Day in and day out, our bodies are working to maintain a delicate balance of vitamins and minerals.

Both copper and zinc are essential minerals that help sustain this balance in our bodily functions. However, just as the balance between the two significantly impacts our health, a potential imbalance between these minerals can also have a huge impact on our health.

Copper and zinc are antagonists. This means that an increase in the amount of one can lead to a decrease in the other one, and vice versa. For instance, excess zinc can lead to a copper deficiency. But the opposite, which is excess copper leading to zinc deficiency, is far more common.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor wound healing
  • Eye and skin lesions
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Delayed sexual maturity
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste

One known drawback of the copper IUD is that it can potentially cause zinc deficiency by off-balancing copper and zinc levels in our body. This is also the case for the birth control pill and even other hormonal birth control methods.

In fact:

According to a 2013 study that involved 121 women, there was a slight yet significant increase in copper serum levels three months after copper IUD insertion. On the other hand, zinc levels have also risen significantly. This is unexpected and needs more investigation, according to the authors.

Does Paragard cause copper toxicity?

Despite the copper intrauterine device being a nonhormonal contraception method, it can still alter some biochemical changes in our body.

As proven by the study that points to elevated copper serum levels following insertion of a copper IUD, it can affect some chemical aspects in our body. However, the elevation of copper levels in the study did not reach toxic levels.

In fact:

There is still much confusion about whether copper toxicity can result from a Paragard IUD. The limited evidence available through medical literature does not indicate that the IUD can cause copper toxicity. A 1980 study by Dr. Krishnamurthy Prema and colleagues is often cited when talking about this topic.

It found that in women who had copper IUDs for 24 months, there was no increase in copper levels. However, very few studies actually investigate this potential issue in connection with Paragard.

And while some women have complained of post-IUD insertion symptoms of copper toxicity, the scientific community stands its ground that the amount of copper from an IUD is not high enough to reach toxic levels.

However, since Paragard is mostly made of copper, it can potentially worsen Wilson’s disease. As mentioned, this is a rare disease that affects copper elimination from the body.

With that said, the copper IUD is not for everyone. Some women may not be good candidates for it, especially if they have Wilson’s disease. Aside from having this medical condition, you shouldn’t also use the copper IUD if:

  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding
  • You’ve recently had pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • You suspect you are pregnant
  • You are allergic to copper

Needless to say, before deciding on a birth control method, talk to your healthcare provider first. They can help you narrow down your contraceptive options to the ones that would fit your lifestyle and health needs.

Paragard Copper IUD Side Effects

As with any other birth control method, Paragard also has side effects that may be different for each person and can range from mild to severe. This further proves that hormone-free does not necessarily mean side-effect-free.

Some of the mild and more common side effects of Paragard are:

  • Headaches
  • Anemia
  • Back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Cramps after Paragard insertion
  • Severe menstrual pain and heavy bleeding

Paragard can also cause some rare yet serious side effects, including:

  • Uterine perforation
  • Device expulsion
  • Embedment
  • Allergic reactions
  • False brain tumors
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Difficult removals
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Plaintiffs who filed a Paragard IUD lawsuit were able to name the side effects listed above in their complaints. In some cases, difficulty in removing the device may lead to a full hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. This procedure may be necessary for rare instances when the pieces of the IUD have already been deeply embedded in the uterus.

The Takeaway

Copper toxicity can result from genetic conditions or chronic exposure to unsafe levels of copper in food or water sources. Some women have complained about experiencing copper toxicity symptoms following IUD insertion. But the medical community says that copper levels from the IUD do not reach toxic levels.

While some studies point to elevated copper levels in the body being caused by the insertion of an IUD, there is a need for more medical evidence to establish a connection between the two.

There is limited evidence on the association between Paragard and copper toxicity as of now. However, the IUD can potentially cause other serious side effects that may warrant IUD removal.

If you or a loved one is experiencing side effects after receiving a Paragard IUD, filing a Paragard lawsuit may help you seek justice against those who harmed you. Contact us today and we will assist you with the next legal steps you should take in fighting for your rights.

FAQs

Can you get copper toxicity from paragard? ›

Paragard, which manufactures copper IUDs, warns that women should not use the copper IUD if they have a copper allergy, however there is no mention of the risk of copper toxicity.

How likely is it to get copper toxicity from IUD? ›

There's no clear evidence that copper IUDs significantly increase the risk of copper toxicity in the blood, unless you already have a condition that affects your liver's ability to process copper. However, there may be other side effects when using a copper IUD.

Is there a recall on Paragard IUD? ›

Paragard, a popular intrauterine device (IUD), remains for sale in the marketplace and has not been subject to any recalls by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Can copper IUD affect liver? ›

After the insertion of the Paragard IUD, there is an increased level of copper released into the body, which eventually overloads the liver and continues to accumulate in the brain.

How do I know if I have copper toxicity from IUD? ›

Copper toxicity, or copper poisoning, causes symptoms such as headaches, fever, fainting, nausea, vomiting, blood in your vomit, diarrhea, black stools, abdominal cramps, brown rings in the eyes, jaundice, depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

How do you stop copper toxicity? ›

Treatment of Copper Toxicity

Oral penicillamine 250 mg every 6 hours to 750 mg every 12 hours (1000 to 1500 mg/day in 2 to 4 doses) Dimercaprol 3 to 5 mg/kg IM every 4 hours for 2 days, then every 4 to 6 hours.

How do you get rid of copper in your body naturally? ›

Other great ways to support copper removal, according to Coates, include drinking filtered water and eating foods which can give you a good balance of copper and zinc, such as lamb, pork, poultry, soy milk, nuts, seeds, dried beans, and wheat germ.

Can a copper IUD rust inside you? ›

Discussion and conclusions: Intrauterine copper corrosion is a normal process which occurs preferentially in the cervical portion of an IUD and can lead to the total metal loss. Both its initiation and evolution are submitted to strong individual variations.

How do you know if you have too much copper in your body? ›

Copper buildup in the central nervous system can cause symptoms such as:
  • Changes in behavior.
  • Stiff muscles.
  • Tremors, shakes, or movements you can't control.
  • Slow or repeated movements.
  • Weak muscles.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Poor coordination.

How many Paragard lawsuits are there? ›

There are now almost 900 Paragard lawsuits in the MDL. On March 22, 2022 (today as of the time of this writing), Judge Leigh Martin May will hold the March status conference in the Zantac MDL today.

Why is Paragard being sued? ›

Paragard IUD lawsuits claim the device breaks upon removal and causes serious injuries and the need for surgery. Claimants are seeking compensation and allege Paragard is defective and manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the risk of device breakage and injury.

Should I get my Paragard removed? ›

Paragard lasts for up to 10 years, but can be removed any time sooner if you decide to get pregnant. If you use Paragard for 10 years, it must be removed on or before the 10-year anniversary of placement. You can have a new one placed during that same office visit.

Is Paraguard IUD toxic? ›

It's sometimes referred to as a nonhormonal IUD option. The ParaGard device is a T-shaped plastic frame that's inserted into the uterus. Copper wire coiled around the device produces an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and eggs (ova), preventing pregnancy.

Can copper IUD cause health problems? ›

The copper IUD (aka Paragard IUD) has no hormones, so you don't have to deal with any of the risks or side effects that can sometimes happen with hormonal birth control methods. But copper IUDs often cause more bleeding and cramps during your period, especially in the first 3-6 months.

Can copper IUD cause autoimmune disease? ›

But really, not ever, has there been a suggestion that an IUD causes an autoimmune disease. In fact, the hormones that we worry about with respect to causing lupus, like autoimmune disease, that hormone is estrogen. That is not the hormone that's present in the hormonal IUD.

Is Paraguard IUD toxic? ›

It's sometimes referred to as a nonhormonal IUD option. The ParaGard device is a T-shaped plastic frame that's inserted into the uterus. Copper wire coiled around the device produces an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and eggs (ova), preventing pregnancy.

Can copper IUD cause health problems? ›

The copper IUD (aka Paragard IUD) has no hormones, so you don't have to deal with any of the risks or side effects that can sometimes happen with hormonal birth control methods. But copper IUDs often cause more bleeding and cramps during your period, especially in the first 3-6 months.

Can a copper IUD rust inside you? ›

Discussion and conclusions: Intrauterine copper corrosion is a normal process which occurs preferentially in the cervical portion of an IUD and can lead to the total metal loss. Both its initiation and evolution are submitted to strong individual variations.

Can you get copper poisoning from handling copper? ›

Sudden (acute) copper poisoning is rare. However, serious health problems from long-term exposure to copper can occur. Severe poisoning can cause liver failure and death. In poisonings from a long-term buildup of copper in the body, the outcome depends on how much damage there is to the body's organs.

Can copper IUD cause autoimmune disease? ›

But really, not ever, has there been a suggestion that an IUD causes an autoimmune disease. In fact, the hormones that we worry about with respect to causing lupus, like autoimmune disease, that hormone is estrogen. That is not the hormone that's present in the hormonal IUD.

Is Paragard FDA approved? ›

Yes. Paragard has been FDA approved in the USA for over 30 years.

Can you get an MRI with Paragard? ›

Paragard can be safely scanned with an MRI only under specific conditions. Before you have an MRI, tell your healthcare provider that you have Paragard, an intrauterine device (IUD), in place.

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