© Jessica Scranton, FHI 360
intrauterine system (IUS)
The levonorgestrel intrauterine system (IUS)—also known as the hormonal IUS—is a highly effective, long-acting, reversible contraceptive with additional non-contraceptive health benefits, including a reduction in menstrual cramps and blood loss, fewer side effects compared to other hormonal methods, and alleviation of anemia for some women. Despite its advantages, availability and use of the method globally has been limited in low-resource settings around the world. This may be changing as new, more affordable hormonal IUS products enter the global market.
Summary of Method Attributes
Highly effective contraceptive method
Long-acting and reversible
Rapid return to fertility after removal
Can lead to reduced menstrual bleeding and cramping
Localized release of hormones and relatively low systemic blood levels compared with other hormonal methods (side effects for the hormonal IUS may be less pronounced)
Removal can be easier than implant removals
Noncontraceptive health benefits including treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding and potential reduction in iron-deficiency anemia
May help protect against endometrial and cervical cancer
No further action or supplies required once the hormonal IUS is inserted
Can be used immediately postpartum and post-abortion*
For additional information about the method, please refer to the resource library.
This website is designed to be a one-stop shop for groups to share the latest research results, service delivery tools, and guidelines for global- and country-level stakeholders. For more information about ongoing efforts to expand access to the hormonal IUS globally, please contact us.
*Note: Manufacturers' labels for LNG IUS products do not currently include an indication for immediate postpartum insertions. However, the World Health Organization's Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use categorizes immediate postpartum insertion [<48 hours] of the LNG IUS as a category 1 [no restrictions] in non-breastfeeding women and as a category 2 [benefits outweigh the risks] in breastfeeding women.
Text adapted from Rademacher KH, Sripipatana T, Pfitzer A, Mackay A, Thurston S, Jackson A, Menotti E, Traeger H. A Global Learning Agenda for the Levonorgestrel Intrauterine System: Addressing Challenges and Opportunities to Increase Access. Glob Health Sci Pract. 2018;6(4):635-643.