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Health Matters Fact Sheets

Copper T IUD

(Updated December 2009; also available in Spanish)

What is the Copper T IUD?

The Copper T IUD is one of two types of intrauterine devices available in the United States. The Copper T IUD is a small, flexible device made of soft plastic and copper. It is easily and quickly inserted into the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy.

How effective is the Copper T IUD?

The Copper T IUD is extremely effective and can last up to 12 years. Less than 1 out of 100 women who use it will get pregnant each year. It starts preventing pregnancy as soon as it is inserted. The Copper T IUD is as effective as permanent sterilization, but your ability to become pregnant quickly returns once the IUD is removed.

How does it work?

The Copper T IUD prevents pregnancy by blocking sperm from reaching an egg. It can also be inserted as emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

What are the benefits of using the Copper T IUD?

  • This is a highly effective type of birth control.
  • The Copper T IUD does not contain hormones or interact with medicines.
  • You don’t have to think about birth control every day or every time you have sex.
  • If you decide you want to get pregnant, you can have the IUD easily removed at any time. The IUD is quickly reversible, which means that its effects on your body go away as soon as it is removed and your fertility returns back to normal.
  • Because one IUD can be used for so long, it is actually one of the least expensive methods of birth control.

What are the downsides of using the Copper T IUD?

  • The Copper T IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • You must visit your health care provider to have the Copper T IUD inserted and removed.
  • Most women have more bleeding and cramping with their periods when they first get the Copper T IUD, but this usually lessens over time.
  • It is possible for the IUD to slip out of place, but this is rare. It is more likely to happen in women who have not had a baby.

Where can I get the Copper T IUD?

A trained health care provider can insert the IUD in a medical office or clinic.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on the Copper T IUD, talk to your health care provider.

Compare the Copper T IUD to other birth control options using ARHP’s Method Match at www.arhp.org/MethodMatch.