Mirena Hair Loss

by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Mirena is a T-shaped hormonal intrauterine device used for preventing pregnancy. Some evidence suggests that Mirena may cause alopecia in some patients (1). Though the number of patients who experience hair fall with Mirena is low, there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding this topic. Here, we discuss Mirena and its potential link to hair loss. Keep reading.

Can Mirena Cause Severe Hair Loss And Hair Thinning?

A study was conducted on a few women in New Zealand to understand the effect of Mirena on hair (1). Out of the 1670 women studied, only 3 cases of alopecia were reported. There seems to be a causal association between IUD insertion and alopecia. While the exact connection is unclear, some believe women’s low estrogen levels could be the cause of hair loss.

In another Finnish study, 15.7% of the 18,000 participants had reported hair loss with Mirena.

Hence, it is advisable to get counseling before using IUD. While Mirena could potentially cause hair loss, it may have other causes too.

Could There Be Other Reasons For Hair Loss?

Women of all ages deal with hair loss. It is normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day(2). Hair shedding is normal and a part of your hair follicle cycle. Hair loss happens when the hair fall is greater than the hair growth.

There are three phases in the hair growth cycle:

  • Anagen Phase: This is where hair grows (lasts from two to seven years)
  • Catagen Phase: There is the shrinkage of hair follicles (lasts for two to three weeks)
  • Telogen Phase: Hair falls out in this phase (lasts for two to four months)

Hair loss occurs in 50% of women and is caused by female pattern hair loss. This type of hair loss is common in the following groups of women:

  • Women over the age of 40
  • Women who have just given birth
  • Women undergoing chemotherapy or those who have had adverse effects due to medications
  • Women who use hair care products containing harsh chemicals

The different causes for hair loss in women are:

  • Heredity: Hair starts thinning in the crown area. This is a type of female pattern hair loss and is known as androgenetic alopecia. It accelerates during menopause with the loss of estrogen.
  • Certain Hair Styles: Hairstyles that strain the roots, like a ponytail or braids, can cause a form of hair loss called traction alopecia. Damage to the hair follicles can make the hair loss permanent.
  • Stressful Events: Hair loss can also occur if you have recovered from a recent illness, had surgery, or had lost excessive weight. This hair loss is called telogen effluvium (or hair loss in the resting phase).
  • Chemotherapy Or Medications: If you have undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy, the hair loss happens in the anagen or growth phase. It may result in permanent hair loss too.
  • Certain Medical Conditions: You can lose hair if you are dealing with alopecia areata. This hair loss is temporary.

Here are some signs of hair loss in women:

  • You find more hair on your pillow, in the shower, or in your hairbrush
  • Hair in the middle of your crown becomes thinner
  • You see hair breakage
  • Your ponytails are smaller than usual

While Mirena seems to cause hair loss in some women, there could be other factors too. You may want to consider all the causes before choosing the right treatment option.

That said, it is recommended to exercise added caution while going for Mirena, as it could cause certain other side effects as well.

Are There Other Side Effects Of Mirena?

Apart from hair loss, Mirena may also cause the following side effects (3):

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease: You may experience prolonged or heavy bleeding, low abdominal pain, fever, chills, painful sex, or unusual vaginal discharge.
  • Embedment: This is when the Mirena gets stuck to the uterine wall. It may become ineffective in preventing pregnancy. The surgical removal of Mirena may be required.
  • Perforation: The uterine wall or cervix could be perforated or penetrated during the insertion of the Mirena. This could lead to pregnancy.

Other common side effects of Mirena include discomfort during placement and expulsion, missing periods, bleeding changes, and ovarian cysts.

These are the other adverse effects Mirena may cause. Hence, it is important to take the right information before you consider getting a Mirena. You may also want to consider the implications with respect to hair health – while Mirena could cause hair loss, is it reversible?

Can You Reverse The Hair Loss Caused By Mirena?

Hair loss due to Mirena could be reversed upon its removal. But it is important first to understand what is causing the hair loss. As we saw, hair loss could have various causes.

The following tips may aid with reversing hair loss:

  • Consult A Professional: You need to see a dermatologist and determine the exact cause of your hair loss. A dermatologist treats diseases relating to hair, skin, and nails. Your treatment for hair loss can start after you see a dermatologist.
  • Be Gentle With Your Hair: According to dermatologists, if you are suffering from hair loss, you need to change the way you treat your hair. Switch to a gentle shampoo since chemical-based shampoos lead to loss of moisture. Apply a moisturizing conditioner every time you shampoo since it protects your strands and reduces split ends and breakage. Use a leave-in detangler or conditioner after washing and conditioning your hair to reduce frizz and prevent split ends. Use a microfiber towel to dry hair faster with less time spent on blow drying.
  • Avoid Hot Oil Treatments: More heat could damage your hair further. Hence, avoid hot oil treatments.
  • Stop Styling Your Hair At Home: You are likely to damage your hair by trying DIY coloring, chemical straightening, relaxing, and perming. It is advisable to go to a salon specializing in such services that you require and have professionals examine your hair and scalp before styling it. Make sure that after styling, the stylist applies a moisturizer.
  • Limit Heat Treatment: You weaken your hair when you apply heat through hot combs, flat irons, or curling irons. Limit this to special occasions like job interviews.
  • Adjust Your Blow dryer Setting: You should avoid blow dryers. If you need to use one, set it to the lowest level. A better choice would be a microfiber towel.
  • Avoid Certain Hairstyles: There are certain hairstyles like ponytails, buns, or braids that cause traction alopecia since they pull your hair and strain the roots. Over time, these could lead to permanent hair loss. Try to tie your hair up loosely to avoid this.
  • Stop Twisting Your Hair: Stop twisting your hair around or pulling it as it may cause breakage.
  • Be Gentle When Combing Your Hair: You should not be harsh when brushing your hair, as this will lead to breakage.
  • Stop Smoking: Your entire body experiences inflammation when you smoke, and this worsens hair loss. Stop smoking.
  • Have A Healthy Diet: Your hair needs sufficient protein and iron for healthy growth. Switch to a diet rich in these nutrients.
  • Avoid Restrictive Diets: Diets low in calories may lead to hair loss as they are usually devoid of the essential nutrients. Do not try any diet without consulting your doctor.
  • Take The Right Hair Supplements: Consult your healthcare provider and pick the right hair care supplements. Take a blood test to check if you are deficient in any nutrients.

These tips can help boost your overall hair health and prevent hair damage.

How Long Will Hair Take To Regrow After Removing Mirena?

In a study, 5 women of different ages with alopecia who had used Mirena were analyzed. The conclusions were (1):

  • Two women who were aged 39 recovered after Mirena was discontinued for four months
  • One woman aged 33 did not recover even after the withdrawal of Mirena
  • The results of two other patients were not known

This does tell us that the possibility of hair regrowth in women with Mirena removed could depend on various other factors. More research is warranted in this regard. Consult your doctor for more details on the same.

 The Takeaway

Mirena is an effective IUD for avoiding pregnancy, but some have complained of hair loss after its use. Removal of Mirena seems to trigger hair regrowth in most cases. Avoid using Mirena if you are dealing with breast cancer or hypertension. More importantly, check with your healthcare provider regarding your current medical issues and whether you should even use Mirena in the first place. There could be other safer alternatives that you may consider.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

When should Mirena be inserted?

Mirena should be inserted:

  • During the menstrual cycle, where you need to get a pregnancy test done to confirm you are not pregnant
  • Immediately after the termination of your pregnancy
  • Right after having a baby, either naturally or through C-section

Should I avoid Mirena since it causes hair loss?

Hair loss is one of the uncommon side effects of IUDs like Mirena. It does not affect the majority of women. If you have certain medical conditions, your doctor will not prescribe Mirena. Compared to birth-control pills, IUDs are more useful since you do not need to worry about missing them.

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.