Overview of the Liletta IUD

IUD (intrauterine device) usage 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 healthcare professional.

Liletta in box
Courtesy

The Liletta IUD (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) helps to prevent pregnancy by slowly releasing 52 milligrams (mg) of levonorgestrel, a type of progestin, into your uterus over a period of three years. Liletta releases about 18.6 micrograms (mcg) per day for the first year—compared to about 20 mcg per day with Mirena, 17.5 mcg with Kyleena, and 14 mcg with Skyla.

The Liletta IUD is also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in women who have or have not given birth.

If you are considering using the Liletta IUD, understanding the facts of this device, including the following, may help you make a more confident decision.

How It Works

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 and your uterus to become thinner, and it reduces the chance of survival of sperm. The Liletta IUD also hinders sperm movement.

Liletta releases the same amount of progestin hormone as 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. While both IUDs can be safely used by women who either have given birth or never have given birth, only Liletta conducted clinical trials that measured effectiveness both in women who had given birth and those who hadn’t (Mirena's studies only included women who 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 ages 18– 35 and do not include women who have never given birth or women with larger body sizes. The Liletta study included both younger and older women (ages 16–45), women who have and have not given birth, and women who are overweight.

Another difference between Liletta and Mirena is how long each IUD can be used for. Even though the Liletta IUD and the Mirena IUD both contain a similar amount of levonorgestrel (52 mg) and release it at a similar rate, the Mirena IUD protects against pregnancy for seven years, while Liletta protects against pregnancy for three years.

In an effort to get the device to market, AbbVie, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Liletta, applied for FDA approval once it verified effectiveness and safety for 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 review study results.

Advantages

  • 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 in teens and women in perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause, when periods have stopped for 12 straight months).
  • 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?

Women who have or have never given birth can use Liletta, as can those who are   overweight. But since IUDs are not recommended for all women, make sure you meet the criteria of being a good candidate and talk to your healthcare provider about any potential risks.

When Should You Get Liletta?

You should have your Liletta IUD inserted sometime 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 backup 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 seven days.

You should wait at least 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.

Disadvantages

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 insertion. You may also have bad cramping or a backache for several days or weeks after your Liletta IUD is inserted.

Side Effects

As 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 Your Period?

  • During the first three to six months after the 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 been in place.
  • Your periods may stop altogether. Around 19% of Liletta users will no longer have periods by the end of the first year of use, 26% by the end of the second year of use, and 38% by the end of year three.

Risks and Complications

Serious complications with Liletta are very rare. Tell your healthcare provider right away if any problems occur. That being said, more serious Liletta side effects may include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy (a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus)
  • Ovarian cysts (though most are asymptomatic and disappear on their own within a few months)
  • Sepsis (severe, life-threatening infection)
  • Perforation (puncture of the uterus) or expulsion (device becomes dislodged or comes out)

Removal

  • You must have your Liletta IUD removed after three years (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 healthcare appointment.
  • 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 another time during your menstrual cycle, start your new birth control method at least seven days before having your Liletta IUD removed.
  • Keep in mind that 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.
  • You should never try to remove Liletta by yourself.
  • Liletta can also be removed at any time 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 healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider right away (and use a backup method of contraception). Do not try to pull the rest of it out by yourself.

Cost

Liletta may have 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 cover these costs. Because Liletta is manufactured by a nonprofit pharmaceutical company, there is a good chance that you can get the Liletta IUD at a discounted price, too. Women who have or do not have insurance may be able to get Liletta for free or at a lower price, as follows:

  • If you have health insurance: Liletta should be covered by insurance without any out-of-pocket costs, as with 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 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 are will be able to purchase the Liletta IUD for only $50—passing the savings along to you.

Effectiveness

The Liletta IUD one of the most effective methods of birth control. This reversible, long-acting contraceptive method is over 99% effective.

Keep in mind that when using Liletta, most pregnancies happen because your device has come out, and you may 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 healthcare provider 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 STI Protection?

The Liletta IUD offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You may be more likely to get pelvic inflammatory disease after your Liletta insertion if you have an STI 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 other available birth control options.

You may feel overwhelmed when trying to navigate 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 healthcare provider, you can make a more informed decision and find the birth control method that best matches what you're looking for.

5 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.
  1. The Embryo Project at Arizona State University, "Hormone Releasing Intrauterine Devices"

  2. Goldstuck ND, Steyn PS. Insertion of intrauterine devices after cesarean section: a systematic review update. Int J Womens Health. 2017;9:205–212. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S132391

  3. Eisenberg, DL. et al. "Three-year efficacy and safety of a new 52-mg levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system."Contraception. 2015;92(1):10-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.contraception.2015.04.006

  4. Nelson AL, Massoudi N. New developments in intrauterine device use: focus on the US. Open Access J Contracept. 2016;7:127–141. doi: 10.2147/OAJC.S85755

  5. US Food & Drug Administration, Liletta: "HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION"

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.