Menorrhagia is a common problem that interferes with a woman’s physical, emotional, and social life. Evidence to guide physicians for decision about therapy for heavy menstrual bleeding is lacking. One treatment option, the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (levonorgestrel-IUS), has been available in the United States since 2009. Updated meta-analyses comparing the levonorgestrel-IUS with nonhormonal and hormonal treatments showed that the levonorgestrel-IUS produced a greater reduction in menstrual blood loss at 3 to 12 months of follow-up. It is not clear whether these short-term benefits persist. Moreover, the rates of discontinuation of the levonorgestrel-IUS at 2 years are as high as 28%, and effects on bleeding-related quality of life are not known.
This pragmatic, multicenter, randomized trial compared the effectiveness of the levonorgestrel-IUS with that of usual medical treatment among women with menorrhagia in a primary care setting. A total of 571 women with menorrhagia were randomized to treatment with levonorgestrel-IUS (n = 285) or usual medical treatment (n = 286). Usual treatment was tranexamic acid, mefenamic acid, combined estrogen-progestogen, or progesterone alone. The primary study outcome measure was the patient-reported score on the condition-specific Menorrhagia Multi-Attribute Scale (MMAS) assessed over a 2-year period. The MMAS scores range from 0 to 100, with lower scores indicating greater severity. Summary MMAS scores were assessed at 6, 12, and 24 months. Secondary outcome measures included general health-related quality of life, sexual-activity scores, and surgical intervention.
There was a significant improvement in total MMAS scores from baseline to 6 months in both the levonorgestrel-IUS group and the usual-treatment group; the mean increase was 32.7 and 21.4 points, respectively; P < 0.001 for both comparisons. Over the 2-year follow-up, improvements were maintained in both groups but were significantly greater in the levonorgestrel-IUS group (mean between-group difference, 13.4 points; 95% confidence interval, 9.9–16.9; P < 0.001). Significantly greater improvements in all MMAS domains (practical difficulties, social life, psychological health, physical health, work and daily routine, and family life and relationships) occurred with the levonorgestrel-IUS than with the usual treatment (P < 0.001 with the use of a test for trend). This was also found for 7 of the 8 quality-of-life domains. At the 2-year end point, almost twice as many women were still using the levonorgestrel-IUS than were those receiving the usual medical treatment (64% vs 38%, P < 0.001). No significant between-group differences were noted in the rates of surgical intervention or sexual-activity scores as well as in the frequency of serious adverse events.
These data show that levonorgestrel-IUS is more effective than usual medical treatment in improving the quality of life of women with menorrhagia in a primary care setting.
School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (J.G., J.D.) and the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit (L.M., J.D.), University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom; the Division of Primary Care and National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research (J.K.), University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom; the School of Health and Life Sciences (H.P.), Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom; and the Clinical Trial Service Unit (R.G.), University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom