Background: The objective of this multicentre randomized, controlled clinical trial was to compare the efficacy of a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) and a depot-GnRH-analogue in the control of endometriosis-related pain over a period of six months.
Methods: Eighty-two women, 18 to 40 years of age (mean 30 years), with endometriosis, dysmenorrhoea and/or CPP, were randomized using a computer-generated system of sealed envelopes into either LNG-IUS (n = 39) or GnRH analogue (n = 43) treatment groups at three university centres. Daily scores of endometriosis-associated CPP were evaluated using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), daily bleeding score was calculated from bleeding calendars, and improvement in quality of life was evaluated using the Psychological General Well-Being Index Questionnaire (PGWBI). The pain score diary was based on the VAS in which women recorded the occurrence and intensity of pain on a daily basis. A monthly score was calculated from the result of the sum of the daily scores divided by the number of days in each observation period.
Results: CPP decreased significantly from the first month throughout the six months of therapy with both forms of treatment and there was no difference between the groups (P > 0.999). In both treatment groups, women with stage III and IV endometriosis showed a more rapid improvement in the VAS pain score than women with stage I and II of the disease (P < 0.002). LNG-IUS users had a higher bleeding score than GnRH-analogue users at all time points of observation with 34% and 71% of patients in the LNG-IUS and GnRH-analogue groups, respectively, reporting no bleeding during the first treatment month, and 70% and 98% reporting no bleeding during the sixth month. No difference was observed between groups with reference to improvement in quality of life.
Conclusions: Both, the LNG-IUS and the GnRH-analogue were effective in the treatment of CPP-associated endometriosis, although no differences were observed between the two treatments. Among the additional advantages of the LNG-IUS is the fact that it does not provoke hypoestrogenism and that it requires only one medical intervention for its introduction every 5 years. This device could therefore become the treatment of choice for CPP-associated endometriosis in women who do not wish to conceive.