Breastfeeding and Birth Control: The Hormonal IUD

Can You Use Mirena, Skyla, Or Liletta If You're Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding and The Hormonal IUD: Mirena, Liletta, Skyla
Is it safe to use the Mirena (hormonal IUD) if you're breastfeeding?. Abrams/Lacagnina, Getty Images

What Is The Hormonal IUD?

An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a method of birth control that is placed inside the uterus. The hormonal IUD contains levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone. The slow release of this progestin hormone along with its t-shape design, prevent an egg from being fertilized and implanting into the lining of the uterus. The hormonal IUD is over 99% effective and can be left in the uterus for 3 to 5 years depending on the brand.

Brand names of the hormonal IUD include Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta.

Can You Use The Hormonal IUD If You're Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can use the hormonal IUD if you're breastfeeding. Since it's a progestin-only form of birth control, it is one of the recommended types of hormonal birth control for nursing women.

Tips For Using The Hormonal IUD

  • If you're breastfeeding, the hormonal IUD can be inserted 6 weeks after the birth of your baby. When it's placed earlier, it is more likely to interfere with the production of breast milk. After 6 weeks, when the supply of breast milk is already established, the progestin is not likely to cause any issues.
     
  • The hormonal IUD should be inserted by a trained health professional. The procedure is quick, and can be done right in your doctor's office. Some women may feel pain, cramping, and/or dizziness during insertion and for a little while after. Talk to your doctor about taking a pain reliever before the procedure. Motrin and Acetaminophen are typically considered safe over-the-counter medications for nursing mothers.
     
  • The Skyla and Liletta brands can be used for up to 3 years while the Mirena can stay in place for up to 5 years. See your doctor for an IUD check at one month after the insertion, and at least once a year after that. 
     
  • The hormonal IUD is easily reversible. If you decide you want to have another child while you're using an IUD, it can be removed at any time. Once it's removed, fertility returns quickly so you can begin trying to conceive your next child right away.
     
  • The removal of an IUD is also a quick procedure that is done right in your doctor's office. If you would like to continue using an IUD after the 3 or 5 year period, your doctor can insert a new one during the same office visit.
     
  • The most common side effects of the hormonal IUD include spotting, irregular menstrual bleeding, weight gain, and headaches.
     
  • Women using the hormonal IUD may experience lighter periods. After one year of use, periods stop completely in about 20% of women.
     
  • The IUD can be expelled, or pushed out, of your body. If the strings of your IUD change in size, you can feel the IUD through your cervix, or you notice the IUD has come out, contact your doctor immediately and use a backup form of birth control.
     
  • The hormonal IUD does not protect against HIV or other STD's.
     
  • In rare cases, the insertion of an IUD can cause an infection or a tear in the uterine wall. These are dangerous situations and should be taken care of immediately.  
     

The hormonal IUD is a considered a safe, effective method of birth control for nursing women.  Talk to your doctor to learn more about the hormonal IUD, and discuss whether or not it's the right method of birth control for you.  

Sources:

Hale, Thomas W., and Rowe, Hilary E. Medications and Mothers' Milk: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology Sixteenth Edition. Hale Publishing. 2014.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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