Copper IUDs have soared in popularity as a hormone-free birth control choice for women. What your doctor doesn’t know about the harmful side-effects of copper could significantly harm you. If you have a copper IUD and are experiencing adverse symptoms, then this post is for you.
What is a Copper IUD and How Does it Work?
A copper IUD is a Class II medical intrauterine device (IUD) that’s inserted into the uterus for long-term birth control (up to 10 years). It is a T-shaped plastic frame with copper wire coiled around the stem and two copper sleeves along the arms that continuously release copper into the lining of the uterus. This process produces an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that is toxic to sperm, which helps prevent fertilization.
What are the Pros and Cons of Copper IUDs?
Copper IUD Claims
Proponents of the copper IUD make a lot of claims that it is a better and safer form of birth control, even citing studies that copper ion levels released by IUDs are too tiny to impair human health. The two main claims that I will debunk that are completely false are:
- Decreases the risk of endometrial cancer and possibly cervical cancer.
- Doesn’t carry the risk of side effects related to hormonal birth control methods.
These claims couldn’t be further from the truth, and many women painfully discover this the hard way. In fact, I have yet to work with a single woman in my practice who hasn’t been adversely affected by the copper IUD.
Copper IUD Dangers and Side Effects
Commonly disclosed copper IUD side effects include: cramping, bleeding between periods, and severe menstrual pain, but these are just a small part of the overall story when it comes to copper IUDs and females.
Copper and estrogen share a very intimate relationship with one another because estrogen increases copper retention in the body. Up to 85% of females (in all age ranges) have been estimated to be adversely affected by a common, yet little-known condition called “copper overload” or “copper toxicity,” and they rarely know it’s the cause of their distress.
Implanting a copper IUD into a female who is already (and usually unknowingly) copper overloaded is a recipe for disaster. To make matters worse, few doctors are aware of copper overload, thus, they may unintentionally prescribe hormones and/or devices that could negatively impact health and well-being.
What is Copper Overload/Copper Toxicity?
Copper overload occurs due to an (often hereditary) inability to effectively metabolize and eliminate excess copper. It is not the same as Wilson’s Disease, which is a life-threatening and rare genetic disorder where copper accumulates in vital organs and glands.
Copper has the ability to profoundly affect every system in the body (especially the reproductive, nervous, and glandular systems), and an overabundance of copper can also have a devastating effect on mental health. This explains why common, yet undisclosed side effects of copper IUDs include severe anxiety and panic attacks, depression, hair loss, anemia, increased anger and rage, brain fog, spaciness, paranoia, fatigue, and increased infections (yeast being the most common).
As a metal, copper is a great conductor of energy, (you know how that energizer bunny keeps going and going) which explains why all of my female clients have complained about symptoms of insomnia, racing thoughts, heart palpitations, and dizziness after a copper IUD is inserted for birth control.
To learn more about copper toxicity, check out my podcast episode 10 below with Dr. Judith Bowman, Co-founder of Mensah Medical. You can also find the Eat For Life podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts!
Copper and Cancer
As previously mentioned, estrogen increases copper retention in the body. Dysregulation of estrogen and the many endocrine disruptors we are exposed to can contribute to the development of many cancers, including cancers of the breasts, ovaries, and cervix. Click here to read more about estrogen and women’s health.
Additionally, impaired methylation synthesis in addition to copper overload is a major factor in today’s soaring cancer rates. You can view the research here.
To learn more about copper and cancer, check out my podcast episode 14 below with Dr. Albert Mensah, Co-founder of Mensah Medical. You can also find the Eat For Life podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts!
Additional Impacts of Increased Copper Levels
Copper Overload and Zinc Imbalance
High copper levels contribute to zinc imbalance. Zinc is an essential nutrient for the healthy function of our bodily processes. It enhances resistance to stress, maintains intellectual function and memory, and mood levels, and it is an important component in the creation of all hormones. Zinc is also a major player in the creation of the master antioxidants metallothionein and glutathione; both are needed for the optimal function of our bodily systems, and they also protect us from disease. Without adequate zinc, we can become prone to pathogenic infections as well as diseases due to the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells.
Copper IUDs and Menstrual Issues
Practitioners are often told to inform patients that adverse menstrual irregularities will eventually subside after insertion of a copper IUD, but I have found the opposite to be true. Disorders such as endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) actually tend to increase in severity and duration after a copper IUD is implanted.
Copper Overload and Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) and psychosis are directly connected to elevated levels of copper, especially with multiple births because copper levels increase with each pregnancy (copper is needed to make blood vessels) and often do not go back to normal post-birth. When I hear about women drowning their children, committing suicide, or shooting their husbands, I wonder if monitoring their copper levels would have helped prevent such sad stories. Additionally, copper is a major player in ADHD/ADD, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, hyperactivity (especially in children) bipolar disorders, fibromyalgia, and paranoid schizophrenia.
Genetic Copper Toxicity
Copper overload has a strong heritable component, which means that it is often passed down from generation to generation, something we call Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance (TEI). If all the females in your family share similar symptoms as mine do, copper toxicity may be the underlying cause.
Final Thoughts on Copper IUD Toxicity
Copper overload is a very treatable condition, which I’ve been blessed to overcome after a lifetime of pain and struggle. In order to heal copper toxicity, I aim to identify and address the root biochemical causes and imbalances of your symptoms. I offer a free 1:1 consultation to help you disconnect from the hype and the marketing jargon, and address the true source(s) of your discomfort. It’s time for your healing journey to truly begin.
Share Your Copper IUD Experiences
Have you experienced negative side effects after the insertion of a copper IUD? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. If you know of someone who is experiencing negative side effects after insertion of a copper IUD, please share this post. Sharing creates community, eliminates guilt and shame, and brings about healing.
Walsh, William J. (2012). Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. New York, NY: Skyhorse.
Walsh, William J. Elevated Blood Copper/Zinc Ratios in Assaultive Young Males. Psychology and Behavior, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 327-329, 1997.
Walsh, William J., Crayton, John W. Elevated serum copper levels in women with a history of postpartum depression. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 14, 2007, Pages 17-21.
Mzhel’skaya TI. Biological functions of ceruloplasmin and their deficiency caused by mutation in genes regulating copper and iron metabolism. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2000; 130(8):719-27.
Chauhan, Abha, Chauhan, Ved, Brown, Ted W., Cohen, Ira. Oxidative stress in autism: Increased lipid peroxidation and reduced serum levels of ceruloplasmin and transferrin – the antioxidant proteins. Life Sciences, Volume 75, Issue 21, 8 October 2004, Pages 2539–2549.
Faber S, Zinn GM, kern JC, kingston HM. The plasma zinc/serum copper ratio as a biomarker in children with autism spectrum disorders. Biomarkers. 2009; 14(3):171-80.
Liang J, Shang Y. Estrogen and Cancer. Annual Review of Physiology. 2013; 75:225-40.
Lontie, Rene. (1984). Copper Proteins and Copper Enzymes. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. S.D.G.
Baylin, Stephen B. DNA methylation and gene silencing in cancer. Nature clinical practice Oncology 2 (2005): S4-S11.
It’s Not Your Fault You Feel The Way You Do!
Get my free ebook and learn why feeling crappy isn’t your fault. You will also receive regular emails from me with tips, advice, interviews, and recipes. Leave your name and email and I’ll send you a free copy.