Hormonal IUD

What is the hormonal IUD?

Hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a type of intrauterine contraception. With this form of birth control, a tiny device is placed in the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are made of soft, but strong, plastic, and they are in the shape of a “T”. A health care provider with training can insert an IUD quickly and easily.

Three brands of hormonal IUDs are available in the United States: Mirena®, Skyla and Liletta.  They all contain a hormone called progestin. The same hormone is also in many birth control pills.

How effective is the hormonal IUD?

A hormonal IUD is very effective. Less than 1 out of 100 women who have an IUD will get pregnant. Hormonal IUDs are as effective as having your tubes tied. Your ability to get pregnant returns quickly after the IUD is removed.

Hormonal IUDs last a long time. Mirena works for at least 5 years, and Skyla and Liletta work for at least 3 years.

How does it work?

It blocks sperm from joining with an egg to prevent pregnancy. It does that in several ways:

  • The hormone in the IUD keeps ovaries from releasing eggs.
  • An IUD thickens mucus in the cervix. That keeps sperm from reaching the uterus and traveling to an ovary to meet an egg.
  • An IUD also affects the ability of the sperm to move toward the egg.

After a hormonal IUD is inserted, it takes about 7 days for it to start working. Be sure to use backup birth control (like a condom) for the first 7 days.

What are the benefits of using the hormonal IUD?

  • It’s safe, convenient, and very effective.
  • It makes your periods lighter. Some women stop getting periods while they’re using a hormonal IUD.
  • You won’t have to think about birth control every day or every time you have sex.
  • Because one IUD can be used for so long, it’s one of the least expensive methods of birth control.
  • If you decide you want to get pregnant, you can have the IUD taken out. It’s a quick and painless process. For most women, fertility is back to normal a few weeks after the IUD is removed.

What are the downsides of using the hormonal IUD?

  • A health care provider has to insert and remove it.
  • It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • It can slip out of place. This is rare and is more likely to happen in women who haven’t had a baby.
  • It can increase cramps with your period. This is most common for the first 3 to 6 months. It also can cause irregular periods or spotting, but this is usually temporary.

Where can I get the hormonal IUD?

A trained health care provider can insert the IUD in a medical office or clinic.