Can I use the Mirena coil contraceptive if I have had cancer?
The Mirena coil is a method of contraception for women. It is an intrauterine system (IUS). And although it is similar to a contraceptive coil (IUD) it works in a different way.
You have the Mirena coil put into your womb like the contraceptive coil. But unlike the contraceptive coil, it releases a small amount of a man made hormone into your womb every day. This is levonorgestrel – a man made version of the hormone progesterone. It helps to prevent pregnancy in two ways
- By thickening the mucus at the neck of the womb making it difficult for sperm to enter the womb
- By stopping the womb lining from thickening making it difficult for fertilised eggs to settle in the womb
Because the lining of the womb doesn’t thicken, you may have much lighter periods. Or your periods may stop completely. In fact, some women have this type of coil put in to help make heavy periods lighter.
The manufacturers of the Mirena coil say that women shouldn’t use it if they have had
You should talk to your specialist before using the Mirena coil if you have, or have had leukaemia or any other type of blood cancer.
A side effect of the Mirena coil is spotting. This is light bleeding that happens at any time of the month, not just during your period. Spotting can mask the symptoms of cancer, which is why the manufacturers recommend that you shouldn’t use Mirena if you have had womb or cervical cancer.
There is no evidence that the Mirena coil causes these cancers. In fact, some women have the Mirena coil if they are taking oestrogen only hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This is because your womb will thicken if you take oestrogen alone, which can increase your chance of developing womb cancer.
The Mirena coil has been used to treat womb cancer in certain cases where women are too unwell to have normal recommended treatments.
The Mirena coil may affect how your liver works. If you have had liver cancer or any type of liver disease, you should not use the Mirena coil.
Although the Mirena coil only releases a small amount of levonorgestrel, we are not sure how much of it, if any, goes to other parts of the body.
Currently, there is no strong evidence to show whether or not the Mirena coil could cause cancers that depend on hormones to grow, as very little research has been carried out so far. Researchers in Finland compared over 17,000 women who had used the Mirena coil with women who hadn’t. They found no increased risk of breast cancer. But we need further studies to show whether the Mirena coil is safe to use for women who have had breast cancer.
If you have leukaemia and have a Mirena coil, any bleeding caused by the coil would be much heavier. This is because with leukaemia you may not have enough platelets to help your blood clot normally.
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