Levonorgestrel intrauterine system versus medical therapy for menorrhagia

Janesh K. Gupta, Joe Kai, Lee Middleton, Helen Pattison, Richard Gray, Jane P. Daniels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background - Menorrhagia is a common problem, yet evidence to inform decisions about therapy is limited. In a pragmatic, multicenter, randomized trial, we compared the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (levonorgestrel-IUS) with usual medical treatment in women with menorrhagia who presented to their primary care providers.

Methods - We randomly assigned 571 women with menorrhagia to treatment with levonorgestrel-IUS or usual medical treatment (tranexamic acid, mefenamic acid, combined estrogen–progestogen, or progesterone alone). The primary outcome was the patient-reported score on the Menorrhagia Multi-Attribute Scale (MMAS) (ranging from 0 to 100, with lower scores indicating greater severity), assessed over a 2-year period. Secondary outcomes included general quality-of-life and sexual-activity scores and surgical intervention.

Results - MMAS scores improved from baseline to 6 months in both the levonorgestrel-IUS group and the usual-treatment group (mean increase, 32.7 and 21.4 points, respectively; P<0.001 for both comparisons). The improvements were maintained over a 2-year period but were significantly greater in the levonorgestrel-IUS group than in the usual-treatment group (mean between-group difference, 13.4 points; 95% confidence interval, 9.9 to 16.9; P<0.001). Improvements in all MMAS domains (practical difficulties, social life, family life, work and daily routine, psychological well-being, and physical health) were significantly greater in the levonorgestrel-IUS group than in the usual-treatment group, and this was also true for seven of the eight quality-of-life domains. At 2 years, more of the women were still using the levonorgestrel-IUS than were undergoing the usual medical treatment (64% vs. 38%, P<0.001). There were no significant between-group differences in the rates of surgical intervention or sexual-activity scores. There were no significant differences in serious adverse events between groups.

Conclusions - In women with menorrhagia who presented to primary care providers, the levonorgestrel-IUS was more effective than usual medical treatment in reducing the effect of heavy menstrual bleeding on quality of life. (Funded by the National Institute of Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme; ECLIPSE Controlled-Trials.com number, ISRCTN86566246.)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-137
Number of pages10
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2013 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved.


  • Adult
  • Antifibrinolytic Agents
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices, Medicated
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Mefenamic Acid
  • Menorrhagia
  • Middle Aged
  • Progestins
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Tranexamic Acid


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