Objective: Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) is a common problem, yet evidence is limited to inform therapeutic decisions.We compared the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system(LNG-IUS) to usual medical treatment in a pragmatic randomised trial in primary care.
Methods: We randomly assigned 571 women consulting their primary care providers with menorrhagia to LNG-IUS or to usual medical treatment as clinically appropriate (tranexamic acid, mefenamic acid, combined estrogen/progestogen or progestogen only). The primary outcome was a patient-reported measure ofimpact of menorrhagia, the validated Menorrhagia Multi-Attribute Scale (MMAS), assessed over 2 years. Secondary measures included generic quality of life (SF-36), sexual activity and surgical intervention.Results MMAS scores improved from baseline in both the LNG-IUS and usual medical treatment groups by 6 months (mean increases 32.7 points versus 21.4 points, respectively; P < 0.001for both) and were maintained over 2 years, but improvements were significantly greater with LNG-IUS (mean between-group difference 13.4 points, 95%CI, 9.9–16.9; P < 0.001).All domains of MMAS (practical difficulties, social life, family life,work/daily routine, psychological well being and physical health)improved significantly more with LNG-IUS, as were seven of the eight domains of SF-36. More women were still using LNG-IUSthan usual medical treatment at 2 years (64% versus 38%,P < 0.001). There were no significant between-group differences in surgical intervention rates or sexual activity scores. There were no serious adverse events in either group.Conclusions Among women presenting to primary care providers with menorrhagia, LNG-IUS was more effective than usual medical treatment at reducing the impact of this problem on their quality of life. In practice therefore, conventional treatments, such as tranexamic and mefenamic acid, remain helpful choices in women for whom LNG-IUS is considered unsuitable, or due to individual preference. For other women, LNG-IUS can be confidently recommended as an effective initial medical therapy for menorrhagia.
Funding: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) Programme (project number 02/06/02)
Special Issue: Abstracts of the RCOG World Congress 2013, 24–26 June 2013, Liverpool, United Kingdom