ParaGard is an easy and effective contraceptive. An intrauterine device (IUD) is made of soft plastic, small, and T-shaped. It’s used for contraception for the long term.
The arms and stem of the device are wrapped with a thin layer of copper wire. It works by releasing copper. This is an effective spermicide and helps change the uterus lining. This decreases the chance of pregnancy. ParaGard makes it more difficult for an egg that has been fertilized to implant into the womb. The IUD can last for up to ten years before needing replacement.
The device is designed with two strings attached to it that ensure it stays in the right position. These also assist with its removal. Usually, the ParaGard stays intact while being removed or explanted. However, occasionally it breaks.
Also, there are cases when the IUD got fractured long before removal. Find out how a ParaGard can break and learn about the injuries a broken IUD can cause.
How Can a ParaGard Break While Being Removed?
The IUD can be removed by your doctor, which is usually the safest and most convenient way to go. Your OB-GYN should present the risks of the procedure before performing it. The ParaGard extraction procedure has sometimes caused the fracturing of the device in several patients.
When everything is going well, it’s a ten minutes procedure with a routine OB-GYN appointment. The ParaGard removal process has several steps:
- You could be advised to take a pain reliever before your procedure, so it will be more bearable. Usually, this non-surgical procedure is pain-free. Other women may feel cramps or pain.
- The OB-GYN will gently pull on the strings and pull out the ParaGard.
- The IUD arms, made of soft plastic, should fold up when being pulled.
- The device should slide in one piece through the cervix into the vagina.
- If the plastic is brittle, it won’t bend as it was meant to.
- Your doctor may report that one, or more pieces broke off while pulling it out.
- ParaGard breakage may require surgery to get out the retained fragments.
When your ParaGard is pulled out unsuccessfully, you may experience severe pain. Sometimes, the removal procedure can result in infection and infertility.
What to Do If Your ParaGard Breaks
Sometimes a ParaGard breaks. Retained fragments could be very difficult to manage. It may eventually become necessary to use other procedures. Your OB-GYN may try to resolve the dangerous problem through a:
- Hysteroscopy. This is less invasive than other options. An endoscope is inserted into the womb for an examination. The procedure may not always be successful, especially if the plastic fragments are stuck.
- Laparoscopy. This is a procedure that requires an incision.
- Laparotomy. The surgery is just like a cesarean section. It may require you to abstain from pregnancy for two years.
- Hysterectomy. This major surgical procedure involves the removal of the womb and leads to infertility. It may be required in cases when the womb gets ruptured.
Sometimes medical professionals cannot recover the retained ParaGard fragments. The plastic may become embedded in the womb or it may travel. Complications could lead to important adverse events, such as:
- Painful cramps during menstruation
- Organ damage
Despite its potential for being a dangerous contraceptive device, ParaGard is not recalled. One batch of IUDs was removed from the market in 2019. However, the recall was not due to breakage issues; it was prompted by sterility issues.
Women reporting unexpected ParaGard breakage filed lawsuits against the manufacturers Teva Pharmaceuticals and CooperCompanies. They allege that although the IUD is marketed as easy to remove, the manufacturers either:
- Created a defective IUD, or
- Failed to warn medical professionals about the risk that it would break upon explant
In many cases, a ParaGard is easily removed and you can go on with your normal life. If the device does fracture, your doctor can help you determine the best course of action. If you used a ParaGard device and suffered injuries, you can explore the compensatory options available.
About the Author:
Hilda Oltean is a case manager at Atraxia Law. In this role, Hilda and the Atraxia Law team of professionals support women injured by the ParaGard device. They help injured women gather and organize relevant information to assess the possibility of a successful individual claim or class action lawsuit.