Treatments & Therapies

Hormone spiral – treatment, effect and risks

Hormone spiral

There are now many different ways to avoid pregnancy . The hormonal spiral is becoming more and more popular . While it is considered a very reliable contraceptive method , it also carries risks.

What is the hormonal spiral?

In medical circles in particular, the IUS is known as the intrauterine system. It is a plastic body about three centimeters long. Due to its curved shape, the hormone spiral is reminiscent of a T. It is inserted into the uterus like any other spiral . The procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic and on an outpatient basis. The biggest difference to the conventional spiral is the way it works.

This is not based on copper ions, but on the artificially produced hormone levonorgestrel. Overall, the risk of pregnancy under the hormonal IUD is very low. The safety corresponds roughly to that of sterilization . However, external influences and application errors by the doctor can reduce the Pearl Index.

Function, effect & goals

The goal of the hormonal spiral is ultimately to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. It is increasingly being used by women who already have children and whose family planning is complete. Because of the risk of infertility , young girls are usually recommended a different method of contraception.Once transplanted into the uterus, the contraceptive effect is immediate. This usually lasts five years. The spiral must then be removed or, if necessary, replaced. Hormones are released locally. As a result, a far lower proportion of artificial hormones gets into the female body than is the case with the birth control pill , for example . The coil evenly releases the corpus luteum hormone levonorgestrel. This causes the mucus in the cervix to thicken.

This makes it difficult for sperm to find their way to the egg cell . If individual sperm penetrate further, the levonorgestrel restricts their activity. In addition, the effect begins in the woman’s uterus. In this way, the hormonal spiral suppresses or prevents ovulation . This is necessary for pregnancy. The lining of the uterus changes in such a way that implantation of the egg cell is impossible. Women often notice a decrease in blood flow during their period after the hormonal IUD has been inserted . In addition to contraception, the IUD can reduce heavy bleeding and relieve menstrual cramps .

To have a hormone spiral inserted, a gynecologist must be consulted. During an examination, the doctor first determines whether the contraceptive method is suitable at all. Some tests are also ordered to rule out infections and pregnancy. If the last swab to check for cervical cancer was more than six months ago, it must be renewed. The hormone spiral can then be inserted. The procedure should be performed during menstruation because the cervix is ​​open during menstruation and facilitates insertion.

If desired, the patient can be given one of the various anesthetic options, vagina and cervix are disinfected to prevent bacteria from entering . An applicator helps to bring the hormonal spiral into the correct position. If the spiral is optimally anchored in the uterus, it opens its arms. Any protruding threads are shortened. The mission ends with an ultrasound examination to check the position of the hormone spiral. After about four to twelve weeks, another review of the situation is due.

This first examination is often covered by health insurance companies. The position should then be made visible every six months by means of an ultrasound scan. In addition, women can regularly check the position of the spiral by feeling the removal threads. The IUS is particularly suitable for women who are looking for long-term contraception. Due to the local release of the hormones, the side effects are usually weaker than when taking the pill.

Risks, side effects & dangers

The hormone spiral offers advantages, but also harbors risks, which interested parties should inform themselves about before inserting them. So it cannot be ruled out that the spiral will slip or be ejected. In most patients, however, such an event occurs within the first two months after the procedure. As soon as the hormonal spiral changes position, an unwanted pregnancy can occur. 

Such an incident can be revealed by a control examination. Regular palpation of the threads can rule out that the IUD was expelled during menstruation. If pregnancy occurs under the IUS, the risk of an ectopic pregnancy is increased. This poses a risk to both mother and child. Because the embryo cannot grow in its unfamiliar environment, the female body often rejects it on its own. The hormone spiral also has side effects. Patients complain, for example, about various types of pain in the head , abdomen, chest and back .

The risk of breast cancer and thrombosis is higher than in women who do not use hormonal contraception. Inflammation of the labia , pelvis and uterus can occur. On a psychological level, some women suffer from depressive moods, mood swings , loss of libido and nervousness . Young women who plan to have children should refrain from using a hormone spiral. The same applies to breastfeeding mothers, because the hormone it contains can get into breast milk. The costs are around 350 euros and are only covered by health insurance in some cases. In order to avoid paying yourself, there must be medical reasons for the hormone spiral.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.