Can I use the copper IUD while nursing?

My child is one-month-old, and I am nursing. Can I use the copper IUD for birth control and will its insertion affect my milk in any way?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are one of the most commonly used methods of reversible birth control for women. When inserted into a woman's uterus, an IUD helps to prevent pregnancy, including tubal implantation and ectopic pregnancy. The copper IUD is a very effective, long-term, reversible method of birth control; only eight women out of 1,000 using copper IUDs will become pregnant during the first year of use.

Unlike IUDs that contain hormones, the copper IUD has no effect on breastfeeding (Koetsawang, 1987). The copper, which is released by the IUD, interrupts your normal reproductive cycle, causing the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) to shed more frequently than normal. The most common side effects of copper IUD use include cramping and an increased risk of anemia due to irregular, heavy menstrual bleeding. Such bleeding among IUD users is not usually considered a problem. In fact, it indicates that the device is working; however, it should be reported to your health-care provider.

Research shows that with the copper IUD, breastfeeding mothers experience less pain during insertion and have lower removal rates due to bleeding or pain than nonlactating women. (Farr G, Rivera R. Interactions between intrauterine contraceptive device use and breastfeeding status at time of intrauterine contraceptive device insertion: Analysis of TCu-380A accepters in developing countries. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1992;167(1): 144-51.) Best wishes!

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