I've had two copper IUD's now (the first one expelled after about 6 months), and the first period on both of them -- as well as the bleeding right afterwards, and the spotting during the first month -- felt like death. It was still totally worth the trade-off to me to have effective, hormone-free birth control, but that doesn't make the side effects any more pleasant. All that is to say, I feel you!
That said, it does get better. I'm in month 5 with my second IUD now, and the only spotting I have is maybe a little bit shortly before and after my period -- definitely nothing to write home about. I've gotten used to the heavier periods, and found ways to manage them (more on that below). I haven't used any other form of birth control, but I will never rely on anything else. It's worth it to have effective, hormone-free birth control that I don't have to worry about (save checking for the strings, of course). Hang in there, it definitely gets better and is worth it.
As far as how I've managed the side effects...
I recently started drinking red raspberry leaf tea twice a day, because I've heard other women say it helps them with cramping and heavy flows. I started with two cups a day about a week before my period started. I also drank a cup a day of Traditional Medicinals' "Healthy Cycle" tea (which contains red raspberry leaf) while I was actually on my period, in addition to the normal red raspberry leaf. Now I'm still a bit skeptical, simply because I'm a bit skeptical of natural remedies while also being all for them... but this last period was the closest to a normal period that I've had since before I got an IUD. The flow was definitely lessened, and I did still experience some cramping, but not enough to warrant taking ibuprofen (which had become a staple for me since getting an IUD). I will definitely continue doing this, and I actually look forward to future periods now to see if the trend continues.
The other way I found to manage symptoms is by using a menstrual cup... however, I'm hesitant to recommend this because there is much debate out there about whether or not using a menstrual cup can contribute to IUD expulsion. My GYN said it shouldn't, and most of what I've read suggests that it doesn't, but I would still proceed with much caution if you choose to go that route. Talk to your GYN, and do a lot of reading. I would feel awful and somewhat responsible for recommending that to a fellow IUD user and then have it be a contributing factor in expulsion =\
That said... it's made the heavier flow more manageable for me because it holds more than a tampon, and therefore does not have to be emptied as often as you have to change a tampon. On my heaviest days with Paragard, I might bleed through a super absorbency tampon in 2 hours or less. With the same flow using a menstrual cup, I could go 4-6 hours before having to empty it. On regular or light flow days, you can go up to 12 hours without having to deal with it. It also feels way better than a tampon, and once you get the hang of how to use it, it doesn't leak at all -- much more than can be said for any tampon. It's been a life saver for me, and I don't think I could ever go back to disposables... but again, proceed with caution before pairing it with an IUD.