Copper IUD icon

Copper IUD 

  • 99% effective
  • Lasts 10 to 12 years
  • Inserted and removed by a provider
  • No hormones
  • No STI/STD protection
  • Not visible to your partner


What is it?
  • The copper IUD (intrauterine device) is a small, flexible T-shaped plastic device wrapped in a tiny bit of copper that’s placed inside your uterus to prevent pregnancy.

  • There are thin strings attached to the tip of the IUD, which hang a little bit out of the cervix.

  • You can only feel the IUD if you place your finger deep into your vagina. Your partner won’t feel the strings during sex.

  • A health care provider inserts the IUD into your uterus during a pelvic exam.

  • The copper IUD is one of the most effective birth control methods available — it’s 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, and it works for up to 10 to 12 years.1

  • The copper IUD is low maintenance. There’s no chance of forgetting to take it or using it incorrectly.

  • If you decide you want to get pregnant, a health care provider can remove the IUD and you can try to get pregnant right away.

  • A common copper IUD brand is Paragard.
  • Copper on the IUD causes sperm cells to stop moving, keeping them from reaching the egg. Since the sperm and egg can’t meet, a pregnancy isn’t possible.
  • You can get a copper IUD at your medical facility.
  • Because of the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost. Check with Member Services or your provider for details.
  • The copper IUD must be inserted by a health care provider.

  • The one-time procedure only takes a few minutes.

  • The provider puts a speculum into your vagina and uses a special tool to insert the IUD through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus.

  • Once it’s inserted, there’s no daily maintenance. It lasts up to 10 to 12 years.

  • You’ll need to get the IUD removed by a provider after 10 to 12 years, when it expires.
  • The copper IUD is safe and 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

  • It’s a long-term birth control method, lasting up to 10 to 12 years.

  • There’s no daily or regular maintenance, and you don’t need to go to the pharmacy for refills. It works until it expires or you have it taken out.

  • It can be used immediately after you have a baby and while you’re breastfeeding.

  • The copper IUD won’t affect your fertility.2 You can try to get pregnant once your provider removes the IUD.

  • It has no hormones.
  • The copper IUD doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV. Even if you have an IUD, you should use a condom every time you have sex to reduce your chances of getting or spreading STIs.

  • You may experience cramps or backaches during the IUD insertion and for a few days after the procedure. Taking an over-the-counter pain medication, like ibuprofen, as directed can help.

  • Some people have heavier, longer periods and more cramping for the first few months.

  • Serious complications and side effects are rare. Rare complications may include: The IUD can poke through the wall of the uterus, the IUD can fall out of the uterus, or you can get an infection.
  • You can have the copper IUD taken out whenever you want. You must get it taken out after 10 to 12 years, when the copper IUD expires.

  • A provider must do the IUD removal.

  • Copper IUD removal is a quick procedure. The provider gently pulls on the strings, and the IUD slips out easily with minimal or no discomfort.


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© 2020 Kaiser Permanente

1“Contraceptive Fact Sheets,” Adolescent ACCESS Project, Indiana University School of Medicine & Purdue University College of Pharmacy,, July 14, 2018.
2“IUD,” Planned Parenthood,, accessed August 13, 2019.