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Paragard / Nickel connection??

I have a ParaGard IUD (inserted 8/2 by a fantastic and lovely nurse practitioner at a local clinic). I decided to get (and subsequently got) a ParaGard because I had tried everything else - had a Mirena, it caused some undesirable systemic side effects, and was pulled out by my own damn clumsy hands not breaking suction while removing my divacup. Tried NuvaRing, at least 5 kinds of combined birth control pills, progestin-only pills, and I'm allergic to latex and spermicides, so condoms and spermicical foam/jelly/film are out. ParaGard is my last-ditch effort at birth control.

I'm having vulval/vaginal itching and irritation. Sort of like yeast infection itching, but it's not a yeast infection (no discharge, no odor, no yeast detected on a wet mount slide). My fear: that ParaGard's copper wiring is somehow laced with nickel. I'm not allergic to copper (100% positive - I just had allergy testing). I am terribly, dreadfully, very much allergic to nickel. And the primary symptom of my allergy is intense itching and irritation. *gigantic sigh*

My plan is to call or email the ParaGard people tomorrow and see what their take is, but in the meantime - anybody know more than I do about the nickel content of a ParaGard? Have any wisdom to offer me?

ETA: just found http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=6153839&dopt=Abstract
http://www.aphroditewomenshealth.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=81083#Post81083; bah!

EDIT, 8/14 9pm:
I called and spoke with paragard reps today, and discussed with them my findings as above, and my personal situation. I was explicitly told that the copper wiring is in fact comprised of nickel, and merely coated with copper. This information is not available anywhere in the patient prescribing information, or in the information given to care providers (I work in the clinic I got my IUD inserted at. I looked extensively). This explains the itching, and also the hives on my face, neck, and torso and the terrible horrible awful cramping even without bleeding (the medical staff at ParaGard, and my own clinician both described this as my body trying to eject the foreign allergenic item in my uterus). After much consultation and consideration, I had my IUD removed this afternoon. It's currently residing in a covered plastic cup, in my purse. I figure it'll soak in alcohol for a while, and then join the ranks of my Mirena, forming some sort of funky feminist-women's health art in a shadowbox.
I'm upset at the lack of information available about this, and upset that I now have such limited contraceptive options. It's been quite the not-positive experience.

crossposted to vaginapagina, iud_divas, birthcontrolled.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)
Some interesting stuff at these links:


Er, that was the only one I could find. Someone suggested on it that increased copper levels in your body could increase your capacity to be irritated by allergens, though.

What menstrual product are you using? I got the occasional itchies, though I think not actual yeast infections, with pretty much most methods until I ended up using a silicone menstrual cup and cleaning it with sterilising solution (which is very dilute bleach). Getting even the mildest soap anywhere near my vulva can make me itch. I've a feeling IUDs can just make you prone to that.
Aug. 13th, 2006 11:53 pm (UTC)
thank you for the link.

i'm definitely not allergic to copper. i do have a great many other allergies though, so the potential exacerbation of them is troubling.

i'm not currently using any menstrual products, as i haven't needed any since the day of insertion (i used a well-worn cloth pad that day). i'm not entirely sure what i'll be using for my upcoming period; i have a divacup, but i'm mad at her (she had a role in yanking out my mirena).
Aug. 15th, 2006 03:15 am (UTC)
That really sucks that the ParaGard didn't work out for you.

What birth control options are you looking at now? Polyurethane condoms? Or if you can find a spermicide that you're not allergic to (maybe something from Canada or the UK), you could try Lea's Shield.

I'm always interested to hear about different forms of birth control, so let us know what you find.
Aug. 15th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
Right now, it looks like my options are polyurethane condoms, fertility awareness, and withdrawal. We'll likely end up with some combination of the first two. I'm interested in Lea's Shield, but can't do spermicides at all.
Aug. 15th, 2006 01:49 pm (UTC)
My husband's allergic to spermicide, too, so that eliminated a lot of our non-hormonal options.

I'm doing a kind of modified FAM with my ParaGard, to help me know when/if I'm ovulating, when to expect my period and hopefully detect an ectopic pregnancy early (just in case!)

And I'm assuming that you're not at a point in your life where you'd be considering anything permanent such as Essure or tubal ligation? (Or a vasectomy for your partner?)
Aug. 15th, 2006 02:03 pm (UTC)
yeah - nothing permanent. i'm 25, he's 24 - we want babies (at least a couple with our genetics) - just not yet.

it's so annoying to be out of options. i work in the women's health field, and i and my coworkers can't even come up with anything better than the above options. bah!!
Aug. 15th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC)
If my IUD went insane on me (which I thought it was doing earlier, but it seems to be OK), I'd probably go for a combination of FAM, condoms and a cap or diaphragm, it sounds like a hassle but manageable. There's more than one silicone cap out there, I know of the FemCap at least and I think it's meant to be better than the Lea's Shield. Not sure which would work best without spermicide.
Aug. 15th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
I'd be interested to see if any scientific information even exists on the effectiveness rates of any diaphragm or shield WITHOUT spermicide, as that would definitely be an unconventional use.

And as diaphragms and shields already have a relatively high failure rate (14-16% with typical use, for nulliparous women), I would think using it without spermicide would skyrocket the failure rate.
Oct. 27th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
Essure uses nickel wires, so it's not feasible for anyone with a nickel problem.

Honestly, considering 10% of the female population has a nickel sensitivity, that is just SILLY of them.
Aug. 15th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC)
That is terrible! Amazing that your body can sense the nickel under the copper coating. I hope they put a warning in the pamphlet now.

How long did you have the Mirena? Are you up for trying it again? I only ask because all of my side effects faded after 4-6 months.

If I was in your situation, I'd probably opt for Essure or sterilization, because I couldn't cope with condoms anymore! I feel for ya. Best of luck.
Aug. 15th, 2006 02:34 pm (UTC)
mirena, almost 5 months. side effects were systemic and still very much present and annoying. i just can't do hormones. also, the strings on the mirena drove me insane on a regular basis.

i'm not looking for perm bc now - i want kids, eventually. so annoying!!
Aug. 15th, 2006 02:51 pm (UTC)
Mods - any chance you could put this in the Memories?
Aug. 15th, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC)
(I tagged it, but yeah - this is the first such post of its kind, I think)
Aug. 15th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, that's terrible! And it seems really, really irresponsible of the manufacturers to NOT include that information about the nickel content; you can't be the only woman out there with a severe nickel allergy.
Aug. 15th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
i know!! that's what i'm saying. and actually, what i said to the paragard peoples. we'll see what comes of this - i really truly can't be the only woman this has happened to.
Aug. 16th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC)
Probably not, and now that I know about this, I'm wondering if the ParaGard's nickel content didn't play at least some role in my first expulsion. I'm mildly allergic to nickel (was tested in high school after a chem lab gone awry), and I had an essentially unexplained expulsion 8 months later, a rather odd time to have such an expulsion. And it is possible to become allergic (and so I would assume more allergic) to something from exposure over time.

I realize it's not definitive, and I'll probably never know for certain. Still, it makes me wonder, at the very least about how many other risks and contraindications of which we as patients (and even clinicians and providers) are left unaware. That's kind of scary.
Michelle Davis
Jan. 26th, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)

supposedly there is a European IUD Nova T 380 that has a silver core instead of a nickle one... no idea how to get it... im actually searching right now, but thought id share.
Jun. 21st, 2012 03:34 am (UTC)
I use pharmacy grade NON-CHEMICAL spermicide in my practice! It's not approved in the US by the FDA, but it's approved in Europe and in Canada. My patients use it and love it. If you can't or don't want to use hormones, try a diaphram or cervical cap with this natural ingredient spermicide. Nonoxynol-9 can be SO toxic! Email me at TheMidwife@ME.com for info.
Mar. 8th, 2013 01:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. I'm also horrible insanely allergic to nickle. Like break out in hives if I carry change or keys in my pockets allergic. Guess that means no paraguard for me
Apr. 1st, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC)
Did you switch to Mirena
Did the OP switch to Mirena? If so, did your symptoms disappear?

Note: I don't believe the Paragard has a nickel core (see my recent post) but I do believe it can cause allergies anyway, but any copper IUD would probably cause these.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )