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Is the Mirena weight gain association valid?

Mirena, a relatively new type of IUD, reported as relatively safe, has been associated with several serious side effects. Yet, the side effect causing the most outcry has been weight gain. However, studies indicate weight gain occurs in less than 5% of patients and the average amount gained is five pounds.


What is it? Mirena is a small T-shaped intrauterine system (IUS) inserted into the womb like other intrauterine devices (IUD) such as the coil. It releases Levonorgestrel, a form of progesterone. What is it used for? Primarily used for birth control, Mirena is also used for heavy menstrual bleeding and overgrowth of the endometrial lining after menopause related to estrogen-only HRT. How does it work? Mirena works by increasing mucus to prevent sperm passage and preventing the lining of the uterus from thickening precluding implantation should an egg become fertilised. It also prevents the release of an egg in some women. With less buildup of the uterine lining, there is less material to shed when pregnancy doesn't occur, making menstrual periods lighter. Insertion and duration of efficacy Mirena is inserted during the first seven days of the menstrual cycle to provide immediate protection against pregnancy. If the woman has had a baby, the IUS shouldn't be inserted for at least six weeks after birth. Mirena is effective for five years. However, it must be removed at this time. If continued usage is desired, another IUS can be inserted during the same visit.

Side effects, weight gain, cautions and recommendations

Side effects Side effects of Mirena according to Medscape include: spotting, headache, cramps, nausea, painful intercourse and weight gain. Serious side effects according to Mirena Prescription Information include: Ectopic pregnancy, intrauterine pregnancy, sepsis, pelvic inflammatory disease, embedment, breast cancer and uterine perforation. Weight gain and Mirena Multiple blogs and discussion sites exist which contain numerous complaints from women claiming they gained large amounts of weight following Minera insertion. FDA approved consumer information however, does not mention weight gain. Minera prescription information states that clinical studies showed weight gain in less than 5% of the participants. Clinical studies have supported this figure. However, the average weight loss has been consistently reported to be five pounds. Cautions Medscape cautions when reading information on the web about IUD’s written for consumers, to recognise much of it has proven inaccurate, overemphasising serious side effects. Websites for physicians have proven more accurate, but still emphasise negative side effects. Yet, it has been hypothesised that physicians may disclose more negative information for fear of being sued. Ask your doctor for complete information. Recommendations Suggestions for women who find themselves gaining weight while on Mirena include eating a heart healthy diet, limiting alcohol and exercising.

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