Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine System Side Effects

Common Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine System Side Effects

Levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people using the device were carefully documented so it was possible to see what reactions occurred and how often they occurred.
Although side effects with the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system are generally similar, the exact frequency and severity of the reactions may vary by product. Common levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system side effects include but are not limited to:
  • Changes in vaginal bleeding -- in up to 51.9 percent of women
  • Complete absence of a menstrual period -- up to 23.9 percent
  • Bleeding and spotting between menstrual periods -- up to 23.4 percent
  • Vaginal irritation or infections -- up to 20.2 percent
  • Acne -- up to 13.6 percent
  • Cysts on the ovaries, which are usually painless and disappear on their own within a month or two -- up to 13.2 percent
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain -- up to 12.8 percent
  • Headache or migraine -- up to 12.4 percent
  • Painful menstrual periods -- up to 8.6 percent
  • Increased, heavy, or prolonged bleeding -- up to 7.8 percent
  • Depression or changes in mood -- up to 6.4 percent
  • Pelvic pain -- up to 6.2 percent.
Other problems, reported in up to 5.5 percent of women, included:
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness, pain, or discomfort
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Expulsion of the device (when it comes out on its own)
  • Oily skin
  • Hair loss
  • Nervousness
  • Back pain
  • Weight gain (see Mirena and Weight Gain)
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Increased blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Painful sex
  • Anemia
  • Hair loss
  • Skin problems, including rash, hives, and itching
  • Abdominal (stomach) bloating
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Swelling caused by fluid retention (edema).
Many women experience changes in their monthly periods during treatment. You may have irregular periods, bleeding that is lighter or heavier than normal, and frequent spotting for the first three to six months. After this time, bleeding usually becomes lighter and spotting lessens. Some women stop having menstrual periods altogether.
If you do not have a period for six weeks, you should contact your healthcare provider. Even though this is normal, and usually harmless, your healthcare provider will want to make sure you're not pregnant the first time it happens.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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