As an alternative to oral and other contraceptives — particularly those that women must take daily — many women have chosen to use an IUD, or intrauterine device. To use an IUD, you must visit your doctor who will do a pelvic examination and insert the T-shaped device during an office visit.
You can have an IUD inserted as early as four weeks postpartum, and it only takes a few minutes to insert. However, some women experience side effects ranging from moderate cramping to IUD hair loss. making this form of birth control less than desirable for women who experience siginifcant side effetcs.
Types of IUDs
There are currently two types of IUDs available: Mirena, which releases progesterone into your body, and Paraguard, which releases copper into your body. Mirena is good for up to five years, while Paraguard lasts for as long as ten years. Both have a success rate of over 99 percent, making them a viable option for birth control.
As for how IUDs work, it’s truly debatable according to the American Pregnancy Association (and my own OB-GYN). Some believe that they prevent implantation by altering the cervical mucus lining the uterine wall, while others feel that the cervical mucus resulting from the IUD kills the sperm and prevents fertilization from even taking place. Ethically, some feel that conception begins at fertilization, while others feel that true conception includes implantation.
Since the IUD prevents implantation, it’s not an abortifacient.
The copper released into the body can have adverse effects, including migraines, weight gain, lethargy, and even hair loss. Curlies may also notice a change in curl patterns and overall hair health.
Since the IUD sits inside the uterus, you must visit your OB-GYN to have it inserted. The process is relatively quick; you lay down with your feet in stirrups, similar to when you have a pap smear. In a few minutes, it’s over and you’re ready to leave.
When I had my IUD inserted, I felt cramps and was a little uncomfortable, but it wasn’t anything too bad. I was also about a month postpartum, though, and that may have had an effect on the crampy feeling I got. Still, it was over in just a few minutes and I was soon on my way.
Prior to choosing an IUD, I did a lot of research into the side effects. I discovered that I could expect heavier menstrual cycles and intense cramps during menstruation. Eight years later, this still holds true for me. Otherwise, I have not had any side effects from my Paraguard.
Other women, though, are not as fortunate. The copper released into the body can have adverse effects, including migraines, weight gain, lethargy, and even IUD hair loss. Curlies may also notice a change in curl patterns and overall hair health.
According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson with The Center for Development, a copper imbalance is actually common, though it is often overlooked because it’s difficult to detect. While copper does serve our bodies in important ways, the problem comes in when we have an excessive amount of copper. Dr. Wilson states that an abundance of copper can cause changes in various parts of our body, including our nervous system, skeletal system, circulatory system and our reproductive system. Additionally, a high level of copper in the system can lead to personality changes. With high levels of copper affecting virtually every part of our body, it’s little wonder that it’s overlooked as the culprit to so many problems.
Since the Paraguard releases copper into our bodies, this can sometimes result in an abundance of copper. Exorbitant amounts of copper (copper toxicity) can result in hair loss.
If you’re experiencing hair loss and also have an IUD inserted, it’s worth looking into and discussing with your doctor whether the IUD could be the culprit.
Curly Hair Q&A: Rebecca Mariolis —Hair after pregnancy