Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a safe form of contraception. These T-shaped devices are inserted by a healthcare professional into the uterus, where they can stay for many years.

IUDs contain copper (copper IUD) or progestin (hormonal IUD). Copper IUDs are sold under the brand name Paragard. Hormonal IUDs are sold under the brand names Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla.

Copper IUDs don’t help with heavy bleeding and may actually make bleeding heavier. Hormonal IUDs, on the other hand, can reduce period bleeding.

Read on to get answers to your questions about how a hormonal IUD may help with heavy periods.

Hormonal IUDs containing progestin can help with heavy periods. Many people who use the device may have only light bleeding or no period bleeding whatsoever.

Although your bleeding may be reduced while you have an IUD, you may experience irregular bleeding (bleeding between periods).

The hormonal IUD releases progestin into the lining of the uterus a little at a time. This makes the uterine lining thinner.

Menstruation is the discharge of blood and tissue from the lining of the uterus. When this lining is thinner, there’s less blood to discharge.

Although a hormonal IUD can reduce the amount of bleeding during your period, it does not regulate periods. The device can cause irregular periods, spotting, and an increase in the number of days you bleed during the first 3 to 6 months. The spotting and blood loss should decrease after this 3- to 6-month period.

A hormonal IUD may initially cause your periods to be heavier. Your periods may also be irregular, and you may experience spotting. These are most common during the first 3 to 6 months of hormonal IUD use. It may take several weeks for the bleeding to decrease.

A copper IUD will not stop heavy bleeding and can cause heavier bleeding in some cases.

A 2017 article cited a 2015 literature review that found menstrual blood loss went down by 70% in the first 3 months of hormonal IUD use and by 96% in the first year. However, the review didn’t clarify the details of this data, such as whether this was an average or minimum blood loss or the size of the study sample.

It may be challenging to come up with an exact amount of bleeding you should have with a hormonal IUD. After the first 3 to 6 months, most people experience either a light menstrual period or no menstrual period at all.

Copper IUDs can cause periods to be heavier, longer, and more painful. But not everyone notices the increase in bleeding.

Hormonal IUDs can cause a heavy period, especially in the first 3 to 6 months after it’s inserted into the uterus. If you continue to have heavy periods after this time, you may want to speak with your doctor.

The medical term for heavy menstrual bleeding is menorrhagia, and it can have many causes.

Some common signs of menorrhagia include:

  • a menstrual period that lasts longer than one week (7 days)
  • needing to change a pad (sanitary napkin) or tampon very frequently, such as every 2 hours
  • passing large blood clots, such as the size of a quarter or bigger

A hormonal IUD is just one possible treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding.

Hormonal IUDs can cause some side effects. These include:

  • acne
  • mood swings
  • breast tenderness
  • benign ovarian cysts

Copper IUDs can also cause cramping and heavier periods.

Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs may fall out of place or be expelled.

Only a healthcare professional can remove an IUD. Removal typically involves pulling on the strings, which causes the arms of the IUD to fold and come out through the cervix and then the vagina.

The IUD can sometimes get out of place, or a piece of the device can break. So, it’s best to have a doctor or nurse take it out.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are common forms of contraception. There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and copper.

Hormonal IUDs are a safe and effective form of contraception. They’re also one way to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.

Copper IUDs do not reduce menstrual bleeding and may make bleeding heavier in some people.

IUDs come with some risks and should only be inserted and taken out by a healthcare professional.