Mirena is a type of hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). This long-term contraceptive releases levonorgestrel, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone progesterone, into the body.

Mirena thins the lining of your uterus and thickens cervical mucus. This prevents sperm from traveling to and reaching the eggs.

The IUD is a long-acting birth control that can be used to prevent more than pregnancy. Mirena can be used to treat endometriosis, as well as other conditions such as chronic pelvic pain and heavy periods. It can last up to 5 years before it needs to be replaced.

Learn more about using Mirena to manage endometriosis symptoms, other hormone therapies, and more.

To understand how Mirena can treat endometriosis, it helps to understand the relationship between the condition and hormones.

Endometriosis is a chronic and progressive disorder affecting 1 in 10 females in the United States. The condition causes endometrium-like tissue to grow outside your uterus. This can cause painful periods, excessive bleeding, and other issues. It may also contribute to issues with fertility.

Research has shown that estrogen and progesterone can help control the growth of endometrial tissue. These hormones, which are produced in the ovaries, may help slow tissue growth and prevent new tissue or scars from forming. They can also help ease pain from endometriosis.

Hormonal contraceptives like Mirena can produce similar effects. For example, the Mirena IUD can help suppress tissue growth, ease pelvic inflammation, and reduce bleeding.

IUDs are a form of long-acting contraception. Once the Mirena device is inserted, you won’t have to do anything else until you and your doctor determine it’s time to remove it. There’s no daily pill to take or monthly patch to replace.

If you’re interested in using an IUD like Mirena to help ease your symptoms, talk with your doctor. They can assess your goals for treatments and walk you through the different IUD options available to you.

Q:

How do I know if the Mirena IUD is right for me?

Anonymous

A:

Hormonal treatment of endometriosis is a common approach that can effectively relieve pain. Mirena is a well-known and well-researched example of the many hormone-releasing IUDs available. It works by releasing 20 micrograms (mcg) of the hormone levonorgestrel a day for about 5 years. This makes it a convenient way to reduce your symptoms and prevent pregnancy.

However, an IUD isn’t a good choice for all people. You shouldn’t use this option if you have a history of sexually transmitted infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, or cancer of the reproductive organs.

IUDs like Mirena aren’t the only way to receive these hormones. The patch, shot, and oral contraceptives all offer similar hormonal treatment and pregnancy prevention. Not all hormonal therapies prescribed for endometriosis will prevent pregnancy, so ask your doctor about your medication and use a backup barrier method if needed.

Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHTAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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Mirena isn’t without its downsides, though they’re minimal. The IUD has relatively few side effects, and they tend to fade after the first couple of months.

While your body adjusts to the hormone, you may experience:

There is a rare danger of perforation of the uterine tissue with an IUD. If pregnancy occurs, the IUD could imbed itself in the placenta, injure the fetus, or even cause loss of pregnancy.

Talk with your doctor to find the best treatment for you.

Progesterone isn’t the only hormone that can help manage endometriosis — estrogen balance is also considered. Hormones that cause the release of estrogen and progesterone are also targeted in treatment.

Talk with your healthcare professional about the pros and cons of each contraceptive, to help you find the best fit for your needs.

Common options include:

Birth control pills

Birth control pills contain synthetic versions of estrogen and/or progesterone. In addition to making your periods shorter, lighter, and more regular, the pill may also provide pain relief during use. Birth control pills are taken daily.

Progestin-only pills or shot

You can take progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone, in pill form or by an injection every 3 months. The mini-pill must be taken daily.

Patch

Like most birth control pills, the patch contains synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are absorbed into your body via a sticky patch that you wear on your skin.

Vaginal ring

The vaginal ring contains the same hormones found in the pill or the patch. Once you insert the ring into your vagina, it releases the hormones in your body.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists

GnRH agonists stop hormone production to prevent ovulation, menstruation, and endometriosis growth, putting your body into a state similar to menopause. The medication can be taken via a daily nose spray, or as an injection once a month or every 3 months.

Doctors recommend that this medication only be taken for 6 months at a time to reduce your risk of heart complications or bone loss.

Danazol

Danazol is a drug that prevents hormones from being released during your menstrual cycle. This medication doesn’t prevent pregnancy like other hormonal treatments, so you’ll need to use it alongside your contraceptive of choice.

You shouldn’t use danazol without contraception, as the medication is known to harm developing fetuses.

Your treatment options will vary depending on the type of endometriosis that you have and how severe it is. The typical treatment may include:

Pain medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers and prescribed medication can help ease mild pain and other symptoms.

Laparoscopy

This type of surgery is used to remove endometrial-like tissue that has spread to other areas of your body.

To do this, your doctor creates an incision in your belly button and inflates your abdomen. They then insert a laparoscope through the cut so they can identify any tissue growths. If your doctor finds evidence of endometriosis, they next make two more small cuts in your stomach and use a laser or other surgical instrument to remove or destroy the lesion. They may also remove any scar tissue that has formed.

Laparotomy

This is a major abdominal surgery used to remove endometriosis lesions. Depending on the location and severity, your surgeon may also remove your uterus and ovaries. Laparotomy is considered a last resort for endometriosis treatment.

Hormonal birth control can help ease endometriosis symptoms, as well as slow tissue growth. That’s why Mirena is often an effective treatment for endometriosis. Your treatment options may vary depending on the condition’s severity and type.

If you have endometriosis and want to learn about Mirena, talk with your doctor about your options. They can provide you with more information about hormonal IUDs, and other forms of hormone therapy.