Levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system versus medical therapy for menorrhagia: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Med Sci Monit. 2014 Sep 23:20:1700-13. doi: 10.12659/MSM.892126.


Background: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) with conventional medical treatment in reducing heavy menstrual bleeding.

Material and methods: Relevant studies were identified by a search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and clinical trials registries (from inception to April 2014). Randomized controlled trials comparing the LNG-IUS with conventional medical treatment (mefenamic acid, tranexamic acid, norethindrone, medroxyprogesterone acetate injection, or combined oral contraceptive pills) in patients with menorrhagia were included.

Results: Eight randomized controlled trials that included 1170 women (LNG-IUS, n=562; conventional medical treatment, n=608) met inclusion criteria. The LNG-IUS was superior to conventional medical treatment in reducing menstrual blood loss (as measured by the alkaline hematin method or estimated by pictorial bleeding assessment chart scores). More women were satisfied with the LNG-IUS than with the use of conventional medical treatment (odds ratio [OR] 5.19, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.73-9.86). Compared with conventional medical treatment, the LNG-IUS was associated with a lower rate of discontinuation (14.6% vs. 28.9%, OR 0.39, 95% CI 0.20-0.74) and fewer treatment failures (9.2% vs. 31.0%, OR 0.18, 95% CI 0.10-0.34). Furthermore, quality of life assessment favored LNG-IUS over conventional medical treatment, although use of various measurements limited our ability to pool the data for more powerful evidence. Serious adverse events were statistically comparable between treatments.

Conclusions: The LNG-IUS was the more effective first choice for management of menorrhagia compared with conventional medical treatment. Long-term, randomized trials are required to further investigate patient-based outcomes and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the LNG-IUS and other medical treatments.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Administration Routes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levonorgestrel / administration & dosage
  • Levonorgestrel / therapeutic use*
  • Menorrhagia / drug therapy*
  • Uterus


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Levonorgestrel