Mayo Clinic: After almost a year of having a period that is
much heavier than normal, my gynecologist recommended an IUD
as treatment. How does this work, and is it safe? I am 38, and
Iím done having children, but donít need contraception.
types of intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are available. The
specific kind that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration for treatment of heavy menses releases the
hormone progestin. This type of IUD is safe and highly
effective for easing periods that are heavier than normal.
IUDs are not the only option for treating this condition
though. Before you move forward, consider talking with your
doctor about the range of treatment choices available to you.
IUDs are small, T-shaped plastic devices placed in the uterus
that release progestin over time. Typically, IUDs are used to
prevent pregnancy. But, research has shown hormonal IUDs to be
useful for easing heavy periods, too. Thatís because they
not only thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching
or fertilizing an egg, they also thin the lining of the
uterus. That decreases menstrual blood flow and cramping.
the main benefits of using an IUD to reduce heavy periods is
that, once placed, an IUD is effective for three to five
years. The exact amount of time it can be left in place
depends on the brand you choose. Little, if any, follow-up
care is needed to manage the IUD during that time.
effects usually are minimal. Some women may notice headaches,
acne, breast tenderness, mood changes and weight gain when
they are using a hormonal IUD. There is a small risk of
tearing the uterus when the IUD is placed. But, thatís rare,
particularly when the procedure is performed by an experienced
prefer not to have an IUD, or if you would like to explore
other possible treatment options, there are alternatives. Some
women take birth control pills to manage heavy menstrual
bleeding. This also can be an effective treatment. Keep in
mind, however, that taking the pill is not a good choice if
you smoke. Your doctor should review your medical and family
history before you start taking birth control pills to make
sure youíre an appropriate candidate for them.
in your situation, birth control is not needed, another option
for controlling menstrual bleeding is to take a pill 10 to 12
times a month that contains only progestin. The medication
reduces bleeding by correcting the hormone imbalance that
usually contributes to heavy periods.
treatment with an IUD or medication is not successful, a
variety of surgical options also can be used to decrease
menstrual blood flow. Most of these procedures can be done on
an outpatient basis and do not require an overnight hospital
you make a decision, it would be a good idea to take time to
review all the possible treatment options with your doctor.
Talk about your preferences, and discuss your medical and
family background. Go over the risks and benefits of each
option. That conversation can help you get a better idea of
the treatment choice thatís right for you and help you find
the one that best fits your situation.