Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are among the most effective contraceptives. It has an effectiveness rate of at least 99% when properly used. Additionally, reports of unexpected pregnancies have been close to zero, making IUDs a popular choice among women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10.4% of women in the US aged 15 to 49 use this birth control device. In response, companies developed IUD variants to suit different preferences and health conditions.
Currently, two types of IUDs are on the market: copper and hormonal. Many opt for copper intrauterine devices since they can last up to ten years. Other hormonal IUDs last for three to five years only.
Despite their effectiveness, copper IUDs are not faultless. They can expose users to the risk of copper toxicity.
Studies on copper IUDs have been inconclusive about the product causing heavy metal toxicity. However, considering patients could absorb excess copper through other means, using copper IUDs remains a factor that may lead to poisoning.
Contraception is integral to women’s health, and no one deserves to suffer copper toxicity to achieve it. If you are interested in filing a legal action, visit The Personal Injury Center to explore your options.
|Key Takeaways |
What is IUD copper toxicity?
IUD copper toxicity occurs when the IUD insertion increases the levels of copper in the blood beyond the regular rate. A healthy person should have between 70 to 140 micrograms of copper per deciliter of blood.
Copper is a beneficial nutrient to the body because it helps with red blood cell production and immune system maintenance. However, excessive absorption may cause liver and kidney damage.
The probable cause of IUD copper toxicity is the excessive deposit of copper through the IUD attached to the cervix. Moreover, women with IUD copper toxicity often have pre-existing conditions like Wilson’s disease, a rare disease prompting excessive copper retention.
Copper IUD may be one of the triggers that cause copper toxicity among patients. Most often develop this condition by ingesting too much copper through food and water. Some develop the disease by consuming food and water from contaminated sources.
Here is an enumeration of the common symptoms of copper toxicity:
- Menstrual irregularity
- Heavier menstruation
- Loss of consciousness
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting of blood
- Mood swings
Individuals suffering any or a combination of the above-listed symptoms should not conclude they have IUD copper toxicity. The condition can be a different experience for everyone. Patients can experience some or all of these symptoms.
It is ideal to consult an OB-GYN and undergo thorough medical examinations. Self-diagnosis can be unsafe, and many have endangered their health due to the lack of proper medical guidance.
The side effects of copper toxicity can be unique to every patient. The common side effects are relatively ignorable, but others could be life-threatening. Examine this list:
- Weight gain
- Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism
- Jaundice or yellowing of the skin
- Oxidative stress
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Liver complications
- Reduced balance and coordination
- Weakened immune system
- Ectopic pregnancy
Diagnosing copper toxicity may involve multiple stages and procedures. Doctors may ask patients to undergo the following:
- Physical examination
- Blood screening for copper and Vitamin B12 levels
- Urine test
- Liver biopsy
- Other copper diagnostic tests
Completing these tests may require days to weeks, depending on the speed of the results. It is advisable to go through diagnostic procedures as soon as possible.
Copper toxicity treatment aims to manage symptoms and reduce copper retention in the body. Patients should consult an OB-GYN before pursuing any medical treatment. Most treatment options for copper toxicity are as follows:
- Chelation: This procedure compounds copper in the bloodstream so that it may exit the body during urination.
- Gastric lavage or stomach pumping: This decontamination technique empties the stomach of toxic substances.
- Oral medications and supplements: Zinc will help prevent copper buildup in the liver and gastrointestinal tract.
- Hemodialysis: This procedure is recommended for patients with kidney damage as it helps filter waste out of the bloodstream.
IUD copper toxicity is a preventable condition. Even though it has a low morbidity rate, women should observe proactive measures to prevent the disease from developing.
These practical tips could help prevent copper toxicity or at least detect complications early:
- Undergo a thorough medical assessment before the implantation of a copper IUD.
- Clean the vaginal area during the IUD insertion procedure.
- Visit an OB-GYN regularly to check if the IUD remains in place.
- Screen for the growth of uterine fibroids since overgrown ones may cause IUD displacement.
- Undergo an IUD removal procedure on or before the device’s expiration.
Attending doctors may recommend other procedures depending on a person’s physical condition and lifestyle.
ParaGard Copper IUD
ParaGard is the only copper variant among the five IUDs approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration. It has over 30 years of FDA approval. Meanwhile, the other brands are Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. All are hormonal birth control devices.
The Population Council and Finishing Enterprises Inc. (FEI) developed ParaGard in the 70s. After the FDA approved its new drug application, FEI released ParaGard to the American market in 1988.
The ownership of ParaGard has changed over the years. The latest turnover occurred in 2017 when Teva Pharmaceutical Industries sold its rights to The Cooper Companies.
Design and purpose
ParaGard’s proposed prescribing information describes it as a T-shaped IUD. It has a horizontal length of 32 mm and a vertical length of 36 mm. It also has a 3 mm diameter bulb protruding from its vertical stem.
The device’s T-frame is made of polyethylene with barium sulfate, making it detectable under X-ray. Additionally, 176 mg of copper wire coils along the vertical stem and 68.7 mg on each horizontal arm.
ParaGard IUD also has a monofilament polyethylene thread tied through the tip, which helps with detection and removal.
To use ParaGard, a healthcare professional will insert the device through the cervix and attach it to the uterus. Since it is hormone-free, the copper coils act as spermicides to prevent sperm cells from uniting with an egg.
ParaGard IUD may remain effective for ten years. Patients may have up to one device inserted at a time.
ParaGard is not advisable for women with the following conditions:
- Distorted uterine cavity
- Acute pelvic inflammatory disease
- Postpartum endometritis or postabortal endometritis
- Uterine or cervical malignancy
- Uterine bleeding of unknown etiology
- Untreated acute cervicitis or vaginitis
- Increased susceptibility to pelvic infections
- Wilson’s disease
- Hypersensitivity to copper
ParaGard designed its product to be clinically safe. However, all medical products are imperfect. The company website acknowledges the following as potential health risks of using ParaGard IUD:
- Complete or partial IUD expulsion
- Heavier and longer periods
- Painful periods
- Vaginal irritation
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain and cramping
Copper toxicity is not part of ParaGard’s health risk disclaimer. However, the company added that the list is not exclusive. It encourages consumers to consult healthcare providers to learn more about other possible side effects.
What is product liability?
The product liability doctrine allows consumers to file legal action if they encounter a defective item. Defendants may incur liability for any harm caused by the product, regardless of intent or knowledge.
Consumers with defective ParaGard IUDs may file a product liability case against the company. Here is a list of potential causes of actions plaintiffs can raise:
Negligence is the failure to observe the standard of care an ordinarily prudent person would exert in a similar situation. A person can be negligent through actions and omissions.
Here are the four elements of negligence:
- Defendant’s legal duty toward the plaintiff;
- Defendant breached their legal duty;
- Plaintiff suffered an injury because of the breach; and
- Defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury
Negligence may exist in product liability cases. Here is a list of common examples:
- Design errors;
- Manufacturing errors;
- Inability to maintain the standard of care in handling products; and
- Failure to warn consumers about the associated dangers of a product
Strict liability holds defendants liable for their actions or products without plaintiffs proving their negligence or tortious intent. Claimants must only establish a tort that happened, which was the defendants’ responsibility.
It deters reckless behavior and enforces parties to take active precautions. All parties are legally obligated to foresee how someone could suffer injuries through their actions or products.
The strict liability doctrine applies to product liability cases. For strict liability to apply, plaintiffs must prove the following:
- Plaintiff followed the intended use of a product;
- The product had a defect that made it unreasonably dangerous; and
- Plaintiff suffered injuries while using the defective product
Types of Product Defects
Regardless of claimants’ causes of action in a product liability case, they should prove the existence of product defect. A product defect is an unintended manufacturing, design, or marketing flaw that poses unreasonable dangers to consumers.
Parties interested in filing product liability claims over copper intrauterine devices should note the following product defects:
A manufacturing defect is an unintended feature that manifests in a final product, making it dangerous to consumers.
A product becomes defective when it deviates from the design consumers expect. Manufacturing defects often form during the products’ construction phase. To limit the distribution of products with manufacturing defects to the market, companies should implement strict quality control.
Compared to manufacturing defects, design defects are intentional. The products underwent the correct manufacturing procedures and created the intended results. However, they are inherently defective because the design poses a danger to consumers.
In product liability cases, plaintiffs must prove that the design of a completed product puts consumers at risk. For example, plaintiffs could argue that a component in a health product could cause heavy metal toxicity.
Marketing defects occur when manufacturers fail to provide adequate instructions for the safe use of a product. The lack of information exposes consumers to risks that could result in injury or harm.
Manufacturers can avoid liability by providing instructional labels. Likewise, they should ensure that the instructions are easy to understand by using visual aids and simple language.
Breach of warranty
Manufacturers must expressly or impliedly guarantee that their products will function a certain way or meet a particular standard. Failure to meet these conditions may result in a breach of warranty.
Express warranties often appear on a product’s packaging or sales contract. In comparison, implied contracts do not require written or oral statements to exist.
Section 2-314 of the Uniform Commercial Code imposes the following:
- Implied warranty of merchantability
- Implied warranty of fitness
Damages Claimable in a Product Liability Lawsuit
Consumers may claim damages in product liability cases. These damages aim to compensate them for incurred losses from using the defective product. Moreover, consumers may claim different types of damages, and the amount of compensation depends on various factors.
It is best to consult with a product liability lawyer before filing any of the following claims:
Economic damages refer to the measurable financial losses consumers could claim as compensation for injuries caused by defective products. These damages may cover the following:
- Past and future medical costs
- Continuing disability costs
- Past and future lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damages
- Household adjustments or services
The purpose of economic damages is to help consumers recover from the financial harm sustained from using the detective product.
Noneconomic or “general damages” refer to non-monetary losses sustained by the consumer resulting from the use of the defective product. It covers consumers’ emotional distress and reduced quality of life.
Noneconomic damages are subjective and difficult to quantify. Hence, settlement and jury awards often depend on previous landmark case decisions.
Punitive damages are not compensatory. Its aim is to punish wrongful conduct and deter similar behavior in the future. Courts impose these on manufacturers who continue distributing defective products despite knowing the threats they impose on consumers.
Did you know?
Despite claims against ParaGard’s breakage issues, the Food and Drug Administration has not issued recall orders for the product. It is still legal for the company to sell and embed the devices in patients.
Seek Legal Help for IUD Copper Toxicity
ParaGard is one of the most effective contraceptives in the US. However, there have been reports of serious health issues related to the use of the product. One of which is copper IUD toxicity.
Consumers suffering injuries from the use of a defective IUD may file a product liability case against the manufacturer. You should consult a personal injury lawyer specializing in product liability to assess your case.
The Personal Injury Center is an online legal repository for non-legal professionals. You can get matched with an experienced lawyer to handle your personal injury claim. Undergo a free case evaluation to find the most qualified attorneys in your area.
Victims of IUD copper toxicity should know their legal rights. The Personal Injury Center can connect you with reliable legal professionals to work on your case.
FAQs on IUD Copper Toxicity
Can I file a product liability case for a defective copper IUD without prior medical assessments?
It is advisable to undergo medical assessments before filing a product liability case based on a defective medical product. Pertinent medical records could be vital in establishing your claim.
Who can I sue for a defective copper IUD?
Injured parties in a product liability suit may file against people involved in the distribution chain. Potential defendants include manufacturers, retailers, and distributors.
Is it advisable to join a ParaGard class action lawsuit?
A class action is a lawsuit where one or more plaintiffs file a case representing a larger group. Pursuing a class action can be cheaper because plaintiffs divide the legal costs, but the process can take longer. Consult a lawyer to know your options.