In the last two decades, several studies have linked certain types of birth control with dozens of cases of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC). This serious brain injury puts pressure on the optic nerve, which can lead to progressive vision loss and permanent blindness.
What is ParaGard?
ParaGard is a long-term, hormone-free intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) that is used to prevent pregnancy for up to ten years. It is a T-shaped device made primarily of plastic and copper that is placed into a woman’s uterus during an office visit. Once inserted, the copper in ParaGard interferes with sperm movement and egg fertilization.
What is the problem?
ParaGard is not known to increase the risk of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) and there are no studies linking it to this side effect. No one knows what causes PTC.
Certain types of birth control implants, such as the Mirena IUD, contain a hormone called levonorgestrel that has been associated with over 50 cases of PTC.
Experts have warned that many risk-factors could increase your risk of PTC, including birth control pills and medical conditions like kidney failure or obesity.
What is Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC)?
Pseudotumor cerebri (PTC), more commonly known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), is a neurological disorder characterized by increased levels of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull.
PTC puts pressure on the brain, which can produce symptoms like headache and migraines. These headaches tend to cause the following symptoms:
- dull pain
- located at the back of the head
- worst in the morning or at night
- progressively more frequent
- constant headaches
- disorientation or problems balancing
PTC may also put pressure on the optic nerve and optic disc (located at the blind spot in the back of the eye), causing a complication known as papilloedema. This causes vision problems, such as:
- blurry vision
- sensitivity to light
- temporary blindness
- progressive loss of vision
- permanent blindness