Mirena IUD for the Treatment of Heavy Periods

The Mirena IUD can help decrease heavy menstrual periods, usually beginning around three or more months after placement. It takes about a year for Mirena to stop periods altogether, but this only happens for about 20% of those who use Mirena.

Mirena can also reduce menstrual pain and pain related to endometriosis, which is when the tissue that lines the uterus grows in other parts of the abdomen.

A woman curled up in pain
 Vesna Andjic / Getty Images

What Is Mirena IUD?

Mirena is a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) used for birth control. This small, T-shaped device is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to seven years by releasing small amounts of a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel into the uterus.

If you have chosen Mirena for birth control, you may also experience some additional non-contraceptive benefits, such as relief from heavy periods.

Mirena for Heavy Bleeding

Mirena is a good non-surgical treatment option if you suffer from heavy periods.

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Mirena to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. It is currently the most effective medical therapy for this concern.

How Many Women Suffer From Heavy Bleeding?

It is estimated that between 9% and 14% of healthy women experience heavy periods. Women who have heavy periods will typically lose about 5 to 6 tablespoons of blood in a single menstrual cycle. By contrast, women with average periods only lose about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their period.

Heavy periods can lead to anemia (when your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells) and other problems.

Symptoms of a Heavy Period

Few women would be able to estimate the exact amount of blood lost during their period. With that in mind, look for these signs, which indicate heavy bleeding:

  • You soak through a pad or tampon every two to three hours.
  • Your clothes or bedding is repeatedly stained as a result of a heavy bleeding.
  • You have to get up in the middle of the night to change your tampon or pad.
  • You wear both a tampon and a pad (for double protection).


There have been many research studies done to see if Mirena is an effective treatment for heavy periods. Studies have compared it to oral medications and surgical procedures such as endometrial ablation (a surgical procedure that removes the lining of the uterus) and hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus).

Here is a summary of some of this research:

  • In one study of women who suffered from heavy bleeding, Mirena reduced the amount of menstrual bleeding by 80% after three months of use. After six months, bleeding was reduced by 90%.
  • Another study looked at 50 women who were planning on having surgery to treat their heavy periods but agreed to have Mirena inserted instead. Thirty-seven of the women reported that they noticed much lower amounts of blood loss after three months of Mirena use. This number increased to 41 after nine months of use. All of these women decided to continue using Mirena instead of having surgery to treat their heavy bleeding.
  • A review of six different research studies showed that, when compared with endometrial ablation, Mirena was found to be just as effective in reducing monthly blood loss. Mirena was also found to be a good alternative to endometrial ablation because it's associated with fewer side effects and it does not affect future fertility. (Endometrial ablation can make it difficult to become pregnant.)
  • One study looked at Mirena as a treatment for heavy bleeding for one year. Mirena was found to be an effective treatment for three out of four women with heavy bleeding; about 79% of the women planned to continue using Mirena. This study showed that the levels of hemoglobin (the main component in red blood cells) increased at three and 12 months for women who used Mirena. This is important because heavy bleeding can lead to lower hemoglobin levels, which could put you at risk of becoming anemic.
  • A 2017 study evaluated the differences between Mirena, hysterectomy, and endometrial ablation for heavy bleeding. Mirena ranked as best with regard to the number of quality-of-life years, followed by a hysterectomy, and then endometrial ablation.

How It Helps

Mirena can help treat heavy bleeding in two ways:

  1. Mirena may lower the amount of bleeding you have each month.
  2. Your total blood loss per cycle may steadily decrease with continued Mirena use.

After the Mirena IUD is inserted, the progestin released helps reduce the monthly thickening of your uterine lining. This makes the lining thinner, so there is less of it to shed during your period.

This results in less bleeding.

How Long Does It Take to Work?

Mirena can reduce monthly bleeding in females with average or heavy periods. Most females who use Mirena will experience a reduction in blood loss after 3 to 6 months of use.

There is roughly an 80% decrease in blood flow within four months of insertion whether you have regular bleeding or heavy bleeding. After a year of use, over 95% of people have a reduction in bleeding.

Is Spotting With Mirena Normal?

Some people fear that Mirena won't help early on, as they notice that they have more spotting rather than less. It's important to point out that more days of spotting or irregular bleeding is normal after Mirena has been inserted. It usually decreases after a few months of use.

A Word From Verywell

Mirena can significantly reduce menstrual bleeding for the majority of people who have this IUD inserted. This may help with lifestyle issues and reduce the potential for anemia.

Amongst its advantages, it is less invasive than a surgical procedure and preserves your fertility better than other treatment options.

Any method of reducing menstrual bleeding can have side effects, and it's important to have a careful discussion with your healthcare provider about what is right for you.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.