The Liletta IUD

Liletta
Liletta IUD. Courtesy Allergan

IUD use is increasing in the United States, and so are your IUD options. One of your newer IUD options is the Liletta IUD. This IUD is similar to the Mirena, Kyleena, and Skyla IUDs. The Liletta IUD is made from a soft, flexible plastic and must be inserted by a qualified health-care professional.

The Liletta IUD helps to prevent pregnancy by slowly releasing 52 mg of the progestin, levonorgestrel, into your uterus over a period of three years.

Liletta releases about 18.6 micrograms per day for the first year—compared to about 20 micrograms per day with Mirena, 17.5 mcg with Kyleena, and 14 mcg with Skyla. The Liletta IUD is also FDA-approved for use in women who have or have not given birth.

Are you considering using the Liletta IUD? If so, understanding the facts may help you make a more confident decision. You may be wondering about some of the questions below.

How Does the Liletta IUD Work?

Liletta helps to prevent pregnancy in several ways. One way Liletta works is by its continuous release of progestin—this hormone will cause your cervical mucus to thicken, thins the lining of your uterus, and lowers the survival of the sperm. The Liletta IUD also helps to get in the way of sperm. This makes it hard for the sperm to fertilize an egg. So, basically, Liletta hinders sperm movement. Finally, Liletta may work to prevent pregnancy in some of the ways that the pill does.

Liletta is also completely reversible, so once you have this IUD removed, your fertility should quickly return.

Liletta vs. Mirena?

Both the Liletta IUD and Mirena IUD contain 52 mg of the progestin, levonorgestrel. So what's the big difference between them? Even though both IUDs can be safely used by women who have had children or never have had children, only Liletta conducted clinical trials that measured this IUD's effectiveness in women with and without children (Mirena's studies only included women who have had given birth).

Liletta was researched in a large study to determine its effectiveness and safety within the widest range of possible users. Most IUD studies only include women 18 to 35 years of age and do not include women who have never given birth or women with larger body sizes. So the Liletta study included younger and older women (ages 16 to 45), women who have and have not given birth, and overweight women. Because the study included women of all shapes and sizes, we know that Liletta works well for women of any weight. And unlike Mirena, the label on the Liletta IUD says that women with or without kids can safely use Liletta.

Another difference between Liletta and Mirena is how long each IUD can be used for. Even though the Liletta IUD and the Mirena IUD contain a similar amount of levonorgestrel (52 mg) and releases it at a similar rate, the Mirena IUD label says it can be used for five years, and Liletta’s label only says it can only be used for three years. The reason for this difference again boils down to clinical trial research.

The pharmaceutical company that manufactures Liletta wanted to have this IUD approved as soon as possible. So, once they conducted research of three years of Liletta IUD use that showed Liletta to be safe and effective, they applied for FDA-approval.

This is the reason why Liletta has only been approved for use up to three years. The manufacturer is still conducting studies to determine the effectiveness of the Liletta IUD for up to seven years. Once these studies are completed, the FDA will then consider changing how long Liletta can be used for.

What Are the Advantages of the Liletta IUD?

  • It provides continuous pregnancy prevention for up to three years.
  • It's FDA-approved for women who have or who never have had children.
  • It is hassle-free—once inserted, you don’t really have anything else to do.
  • It's a good alternative if you can't use estrogen-based birth control.
  • It can be removed anytime within its three-year period.
  • It can be used by teens and perimenopausal women.
  • Neither you nor your partner should be able to feel the Liletta IUD during sex.
  • It can be used if you are breastfeeding.
  • It's an effective birth control method if you are overweight.

Who Should Get the Liletta IUD?

Liletta has been specifically researched with nulliparous women (the fancy medical term for women who have never given birth)—so, the FDA has approved the Liletta IUD to be used by women in this population. Liletta's product labeling states that this IUD can be used whether or not you have given birth to a child. You can also consider using Liletta if you are overweight. But IUDs are not recommended for all women, so make sure you meet the criteria of being a good candidate and talk to your doctor about any potential risks.

When Should I Get Liletta?

You should have your Liletta IUD inserted some time during the first seven days of your menstrual cycle or immediately after a first-trimester abortion or miscarriage. If you have Liletta inserted during this time, it is immediately effective, so you do not need to use any back-up birth control.

If you have your Liletta IUD inserted at any other time during your monthly cycle, you will need to use another birth control method (such as spermicide or condoms) during the first week after having Liletta inserted. Your pregnancy protection will begin after one week (seven days).

You should wait at least of six weeks to have Liletta inserted after giving birth or undergoing a second-trimester abortion or miscarriage. This time frame will give your uterus time to fully heal before having your Liletta IUD inserted.

Are There Disadvantages to Getting the Liletta IUD?

Most women do not have any problems adjusting to an IUD. But you may experience some pain, bleeding, or dizziness during and/or after your Liletta IUD has been inserted. These symptoms should go away within half an hour after your Liletta insertion. You may also have bad cramping or a backache for several days or weeks after your Liletta IUD is inserted.

What About Liletta Side Effects?

Like with any IUD, you may have side effects after having your Liletta IUD inserted. Usually, these will go away after the first few weeks to months after insertion. The most commonly reported Liletta IUD side effects include:

  • Inflammation or infection of the outer part of your vagina (vulvovaginitis)
  • Acne
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Stomach and/or pelvic pain
  • Breast pain or discomfort
  • Depression or mood changes

Will Liletta Cause Changes to My Period?

  • During the first three to six months after insertion of your Liletta IUD, you may have a higher chance of bleeding and spotting. Your period may become irregular and/or your periods may be heavier or longer than usual.
  • Although breakthrough bleeding and spotting will most likely decrease within the first three months after your Liletta insertion, your periods may continue to be irregular.
  • Over time, your periods will likely become shorter and lighter. Because the progestin in Liletta thins your uterine lining, bleeding may decrease the longer your Liletta IUD has be in place.
  • Your periods may stop altogether. Around 19 percent of Liletta users will no longer have periods by the end of the first year of use; 26 percent by the end of the second year of use; and 38 percent by the end of year three.

What Are the Risks and Complications of the Liletta IUD?

Serious complications with Liletta are very rare. Make sure to tell your doctor right away if any problems occur. That being said, some more serious Liletta side effects may include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Ovarian cysts (though most are asymptomatic and disappear on their own within a few months)
  • Sepsis (severe, life-threatening infection)
  • Perforation or expulsion

Removal of Your Liletta IUD

  • You must have your Liletta IUD removed after three years are up (it won't disappear or dissolve into your body). You can choose to have another Liletta IUD or a different IUD inserted during the same visit.
  • If you want to switch to a new birth control method (and have continuous pregnancy protection), schedule your Liletta IUD removal to take place during the first seven days of your period and immediately start your new birth control method. If you have your Liletta removed at any other time during your menstrual cycle, start your new birth control method at least seven days before having your Liletta IUD removed.
  • KEEP IN MIND: if you have had sex (without using a male condom, female condom, spermicide, or the sponge) within five days before having your Liletta removed, you may be at risk for getting pregnant after your IUD is removed.
  • You should never try to remove Liletta by yourself (after all, this is why we have doctors!).
  • Liletta can also be removed at anytime before the three-year period ends.
  • There is a small chance that your Liletta IUD may come out on its own—but, more likely, you will need to schedule an appointment to have it removed.
  • If your Liletta IUD does come out on its own, there's a good possibility that you won't even notice. This is why it is important to feel for your IUD strings—since this is the only way for you to know that your Liletta IUD is still in place. If your Liletta has come out, call your doctor. Your doctor will most likely perform a pregnancy test (to make sure that you are not pregnant) before inserting a new Liletta IUD.
  • If your Liletta IUD has become partially expelled, contact your doctor right away (and use a back up method of contraception). Do not try to pull the rest of it out by yourself.

How Much Does the Liletta IUD Cost?

Liletta has a higher upfront cost than other birth control methods. The cost of the exam, the Liletta IUD, insertion, and follow up visits can cost around $500-$900. Medicaid may possibly cover these costs. Because Liletta is manufactured by a non-profit pharmaceutical company, there is a good chance that you can get the Liletta IUD at a discounted price. Women who have or do not have insurance may be able to get Liletta for free or at a lower price:

  • If you have health insurance: Liletta should be covered by insurance without any out-of-pocket costs, just like other types of prescription birth control. Because Liletta is a newer birth control method, it may not be covered by your insurance plans immediately (it usually takes some time for plans to get new drugs and devices on their list of approved treatments).
  • If you have health insurance, but your plan still charges a copay or doesn’t cover any contraception, Liletta is offering a Patient Savings Program until December 31, 2017. With this program, eligible patients may pay no more than $75 for the Liletta IUD itself. The program does not cover the cost of having the IUD inserted, which can range between $150 and $250.
  • If you do not have health insurance: Try to find the closest Title X family planning clinic and ask if they provide the Liletta IUD. These clinics usually offer sliding scale fees for their services, and they will be able to purchase the Liletta IUD for only $50—passing the savings along to you.

How Effective Is Liletta?

The Liletta IUD one of the most effective methods of birth control. This reversible, long-acting contraceptive method is over 99 percent effective. This means that out of every 100 women who use the Liletta IUD in one year, less than 1 will become pregnant with typical use as well as with perfect use.

Some Things to Keep in Mind: When using Liletta, most pregnancies happen because your Liletta has come out—and you most likely will not realize that this has happened. Even though the chance of pregnancy while using Liletta is very low, it could happen. If you become pregnant when your Liletta IUD is still in place, call your doctor as soon as you realize that you're pregnant—since there can be possible risks associated with this type of pregnancy.

Does Liletta Offer Any STD Protection?

The Liletta IUD offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections. You may be more likely to get pelvic inflammatory disease after your Liletta insertion if you have an std during this time. You may also be more at risk if you have multiple sexual partners or a sexual partner who has had multiple sexual partners.

A Word From Verywell

Liletta and other IUDs can offer a safe and effective contraceptive method if you're a good candidate. If you don't think the Liletta IUD is the right method for you, there are many more available birth control options. You may feel overwhelmed when trying to navigate through the world of birth control, especially if you don't fully understand how each method works or is used. But after doing some research, asking questions, and talking to your doctor, you can make a more informed decision and find the birth control method that best matches what you're looking for.

Source:

Eisenberg, DL. et al. "Three-year efficacy and safety of a new 52-mg levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system."Contraception. 2015;92(1):10-16.

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