The hormonal IUD

What is the hormonal IUD?

The hormonal IUD (also known as the Mirena or Kyleena) is a soft T-shaped, plastic device that is inserted into the womb by a healthcare provider to prevent pregnancy. It is smaller than the palm of your hand. It continuously releases small amounts of a hormone called levonorgestrel which is similar to progestogen. 

When used correctly, the hormonal IUD has a very high chance of preventing pregnancy. The hormonal IUD does not prevent STIs and HIV but a male/external or female/internal condom can.

How does the hormonal IUD work?

The hormonal IUD works like other hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. This means that the progestin hormone in it stops the ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormonal IUD also changes the lining of your womb and cervix to stop sperm from reaching the egg.

How often do you use the hormonal IUD?

Hormonal IUD brands like the Mirena or Kyleena are effective for five years.

How to use hormonal IUD

A trained healthcare provider will insert the hormonal IUD into your womb at a health facility. 

Who can use the hormonal IUD?

Most women can safely use the hormonal IUD for years as a contraception method to protect themselves against pregnancy

Who cannot use the hormonal IUD?

You should not use the hormonal IUD if you do not have access to a trained healthcare provider to insert it.

For medical reasons, you should not use the hormonal IUD if:

  • You have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
  • The structure of your womb is abnormal.
  • You have liver disease or breast cancer.

How much does the hormonal IUD cost?

The cost varies depending on the brand. The hormonal IUD can cost about R2 000 in private facilities. This price does not include the cost of insertion. 

Pros

  • The hormonal IUD protects women against pregnancy for up to five years at a time and you do not need to remember to use the hormonal IUD every day.
  • The hormonal IUD may decrease menstrual blood flow and menstrual cramps and pain. 
  • If you are breastfeeding, you can use the hormonal IUD to prevent pregnancy.
  • If you are planning on having a family, you should be able to get pregnant soon after removing the hormonal IUD.

Cons

  • You may experience irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding and pain immediately after the insertion of the hormonal IUD, but this will get better. 
  • The hormonal IUD must be removed and replaced by a trained healthcare provider after five years. 
  • The hormonal IUD is expensive.

Important points to note when using the hormonal IUD

  • If you are on any medication, please let your healthcare provider know as the hormonal IUD may affect your other medication.
  • If you are planning to get pregnant soon, consider using a method that doesn’t last long because this IUD prevents pregnancy for three to five years.
  • Mild and treatable side-effects from the hormonal IUD sometimes occur like irregular or heavier periods, acne, abdominal pain, mood changes and vaginal discharge. 
  • If you feel like the hormonal IUD is no longer in the correct place, is slipping out or you can feel the strings attached to it please ask your healthcare provider to check if it is in the correct position.

How do I get additional protection against HIV and STIs when using the hormonal IUD?

For additional protection against HIV and STIs, different prevention options can be explored, such as PrEP and using a condom. Using condoms and contraception together is what we call “dual protection”. 

Is the hormonal IUD your ideal contraceptive? Take the test!

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