Usual medical treatments or levonorgestrel-IUS for women with heavy menstrual bleeding: long-term randomised pragmatic trial in primary care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • University of Nottingham


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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e861-e870
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number653
Early online date11 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2016


  • levonorgestrel intrauterine system, general practice, medical treatment, menorrhagia, menstrual, primary health care