Usual medical treatments or levonorgestrel-IUS for women with heavy menstrual bleeding: long-term randomised pragmatic trial in primary care
- Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners
The British Journal of General Practice,
(issn: 0960-1643, eissn: 1478-5242)
levonorgestrel intrauterine system | medical treatment | menorrhagia | general practice | menstrual | primary health care | Research
Background: Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) is a common, chronic problem affecting women and health services. However, long-term evidence on treatment in primary care is lacking. Aim: To assess the effectiveness of commencing the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) or usual medical treatments for women presenting with HMB in general practice. Design and setting: A pragmatic, multicentre, parallel, open-label, long term, randomised controlled trial in 63 primary care practices across the English Midlands. Method: In total, 571 women aged 25–50 years, with HMB were randomised to LNG-IUS or usual medical treatment (tranexamic/mefenamic acid, combined oestrogen–progestogen, or progesterone alone). The primary outcome was the patient reported Menorrhagia Multi-Attribute Scale (MMAS, measuring effect of HMB on practical difficulties, social life, psychological and physical health, and work and family life; scores from 0 to 100). Secondary outcomes included surgical intervention (endometrial ablation/hysterectomy), general quality of life, sexual activity, and safety. Results: At 5 years post-randomisation, 424 (74%) women provided data. While the difference between LNG-IUS and usual treatment groups was not significant (3.9 points; 95% confidence interval = −0.6 to 8.3; P = 0.09), MMAS scores improved significantly in both groups from baseline (mean increase, 44.9 and 43.4 points, respectively; P<0.001 for both comparisons). Rates of surgical intervention were low in both groups (surgery-free survival was 80% and 77%; hazard ratio 0.90; 95% CI = 0.62 to 1.31; P = 0.6). There was no difference in generic quality of life, sexual activity scores, or serious adverse events. Conclusion: Large improvements in symptom relief across both groups show treatment for HMB can be successfully initiated with long-term benefit and with only modest need for surgery.