Background: Heavy menstrual blood loss is a common reason for women to seek medical care. The levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (IUS) is an effective medical treatment for menorrhagia. We report a randomised comparison of this approach with hysterectomy in terms of the quality of life of women with menorrhagia and cost-effectiveness.
Methods: Of 598 women referred with menorrhagia to five university hospitals in Finland, 236 were eligible and agreed to take part. They were randomly assigned treatment with the levonorgestrel-releasing IUS (n=119) or hysterectomy (n=117). The amount of menstrual blood loss was objectively measured. The primary outcome measure was health-related quality of life at 12-month follow-up. Analyses were by intention to treat.
Findings: In the group assigned the levonorgestrel-releasing IUS, 24 (20%) women had had hysterectomy and 81 (68%) continued to use the system at 12 months. Of the women assigned to the hysterectomy group, 107 underwent the operation. Health-related quality of life improved significantly in both the IUS and hysterectomy groups (change 0.10 [95% CI 0.06-0.14] in both groups) as did other indices of psychological wellbeing. There were no significant differences between the treatment groups except that women with hysterectomy suffered less pain. Overall costs were about three times higher for the hysterectomy group than for the IUS group.
Interpretation: The significant improvement in health-related quality of life highlights the importance of treating menorrhagia. During the first year the levonorgestrel-releasing IUS was a cost-effective alternative to hysterectomy in treatment of this disorder.