Can you get pregnant on Paragard?
Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Sep 15, 2020.
Yes, it is possible to become pregnant on Paragard; however, this is extremely rare, occurring in less than one out of every 100 women who use Paragard every year. If you do become pregnant, there is a higher chance that your pregnancy will be ectopic (occurring outside of the uterus) or you will develop complications with your pregnancy, if it continues.
How effective is Paragard?
No type of birth control is 100% effective, the only 100% effective method is abstinence (not having sex). IUDs, such as Paragard, have one of the highest rates of effectiveness, at over 99%.
This is because once it is inserted, it protects from pregnancy 24 hours a day for every day of the year for up to 10 years. Once an IUD is in place, a woman does not have to remember to do anything else (such as take a daily pill) to ensure its effectiveness. Paragard will not protect against STD’s, only condoms do this to a certain extent.
Is there a risk of ectopic pregnancy with Paragard?
Using an IUD, such as Paragard puts you at a higher risk of ectopic pregnancies than pregnancy in the general population. Research has shown that the incidence of ectopic pregnancy with Paragard was 0.06% (6 women out of every 10,000 who use Paragard).
Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies that occur outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. An ectopic pregnancy can't proceed normally because the fertilized egg cannot survive if it is not in the uterus. In addition, if the embryo is left to develop, the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding. If you develop an ectopic pregnancy while Paragard is inserted, you may require surgery and it may result in a loss of your fertility.
What happens if you do become pregnant while Paragard is inserted?
If you do become pregnant with Paragard in place, and the egg has implanted itself in the lining of your uterus, then you are at an increased risk of miscarriage, sepsis, premature labor, and premature delivery.
You should go to your doctor straight away and get Paragard removed if the strings are visible or can be retrieved; however, the success of this depends on how far along your pregnancy already is. Research has shown the risk of miscarriage is up to 27% when the IUD was removed compared with 77% if the IUD was left in place.
Leaving Paragard in place if you become pregnant increases your risk of spontaneous abortion, septic abortion, septicemia, septic shock, premature labor, premature delivery, a hysterectomy or permanent infertility, or death.
If Paragard cannot be removed or if you choose not to have it removed, you will need to monitor yourself and report immediately to your doctor any flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, cramping, pain, bleeding, vaginal discharge, or leakage of fluid, or any other symptom that suggests complications of the pregnancy.
Women who are already pregnant should not have Paragard inserted because it may cause adverse pregnancy outcomes.
- Contraceptive failure in the United States Contraception. 2011 May ; 83(5): 397–404. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2011.01.021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3638209/pdf/nihms458000.pdf
- What are the disadvantages of IUDs? Planned Parenthood https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud/what-are-the-disadvantages-of-iuds#:~:text=The%20copper%20IUD%20(Paragard)%20doesn,for%20the%20first%20few%20months
- Paragard Paragard.com https://www.paragard.com/
- Copper IUD (ParaGard) Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/paragard/about/pac-20391270#:~:text=The%20copper%20IUD%20(ParaGard)%20contains,term%20birth%20control%20(contraception)
- Paragard. 09/2019 CooperSurgical, Inc. https://www.drugs.com/pro/paragard.html
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