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Levonorgestrel (LNg) IUD

Topic Overview

The levonorgestrel (LNg) intrauterine device (IUD) releases small amounts of levonorgestrel, a form of progesterone, into the uterus each day. This type of IUD reduces cramping and heavy menstrual bleeding. And it is a highly effective method of birth control.

There are two LNg IUDs—one works for 5 years, and the other works for 3 years.

How well does it work?

Most women have a significant decrease in uterine blood loss with the LNg IUD. Some studies report up to a 95% reduction in blood loss.1 Increased spotting during the first couple of months is common, followed by less bleeding thereafter.

What are common side effects?

The LNg IUD can reduce menstrual bleeding and cramps and, in many women, eventually cause menstrual periods to stop altogether. In this case, not menstruating is not harmful.

The LNg IUD may cause hormonal side effects similar to those caused by oral contraceptives.

  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Acne

These side effects are not common. But if they do happen, they usually go away after the first few months.

References

Citations

  1. Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Abnormal uterine bleeding. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 591–620. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised May 7, 2013

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