Scientists are suggesting that the hormone-releasing Mirena coil intrauterine device works better than conventional medical techniques when it comes to treating heavy menstrual periods.
It is believed the discovery could transform clinical practice, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Large numbers of women suffer from heavy periods, or menorrhagia. Around 20% of gynaecological referrals are taken up with the problem, and many GP consultations are taken regarding this problem, yet there is little evidence that both women and doctors are making informed choices about treating it.
The Eclipse trial looked at how the Mirena coil, which releases levonorgestrel, works in comparison with other treatments on offer. It examined 571 women suffering from heavy bleeding who agreed to be randomly assigned either the Mirena coil or a standard treatment. The latter including tranexamic acid, mefanamic acid, oestrogen and progestogen or progestogen only.
In the space of two years, patients reported that their symptoms improved more with the Mirena coil, also known as LNG-IUS, than with the other treatments. This had the benefit of boosting their social lives, both at work and in the family, as well as enhancing their mental wellbeing and general health.
Women who were treated with the coil were nearly twice as likely to be still using it after two years, as opposed to the other medication. Similarly, 49% of other people taking part in the trial switched to the coil owing to the reported “ineffectiveness” of other treatments.
Janesh Gupta, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Birmingham, said: “While the interventions studied in this trial represent options available in primary care settings in the UK, insertion of IUDs is not part of primary care in all health care settings, and in some circumstances requires gynaecologist consultation.
“This trial should encourage the use of IUDs in primary care.”