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Hormonal IUD (intrauterine device, Mirena)

The hormonal IUD is a small ‘T’ shaped plastic device. It’s placed inside the uterus by a specially trained doctor or nurse to release small amounts of the hormone progestogen for up to five years.

How does it work?

  • Thickens the mucus at the entrance to the uterus (cervix) to stop sperm from moving into the uterus.
  • Thins the lining of the uterus to stop a fertilised egg implanting.
  • Sometimes stops the ovaries from releasing an egg.

How well does it work?

The hormonal IUD is 99.8% effective at preventing pregnancy.

The hormonal IUD prevents unplanned pregnancy for up to 5 years.

What are the benefits?

  • You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day.
  • Periods usually become lighter and sometimes stop altogether.
  • Starts working right away if it’s put in during the first seven days of your period.
  • Fertility returns as soon as it’s taken out.
  • Safe to use if you’re breastfeeding or can’t take oestrogen.
  • An inexpensive form of contraception in the long term if you have a Medicare card.

What are the downsides?

  • Hormonal IUDs don’t protect against STIs but you can use condoms at the same time.
  • You may experience some irregular vaginal bleeding in the first few months.
  • Putting the IUD into the uterus can be a bit painful, especially if you haven’t had children yet.
  • There is a small chance of infection in the first three weeks after it’s inserted which could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – PID may rarely affect fertility later on.

Are there side effects?

Serious problems are rare with the hormonal IUD. You may experience:

  • cramping when it’s put in
  • an increase in vaginal discharge

Other side effects are rare because of the low dose of hormones, but you may notice similar side effects to the progestogen-only pill (POP).

Can anyone use a hormonal IUD?

Most women can use a hormonal IUD but they are not usually the first contraceptive choice for young women who haven’t been pregnant.

Where do you get it?

A hormonal IUD must be inserted and removed by a trained doctor or nurse. This can be done at a Family Planning clinic, by some doctors or a gynaecologist.

Hormonal IUD

Hormonal IUD