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Duke Study Shows IUD Can Reduce the Length of Heavy Periods

Results from a Duke University study show that an intrauterine device (IUD) that releases levonorgestrel, a synthetic form of the hormone progestin, can help prevent unusually heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). While the device is more often used as an effective means of contraception, the study demonstrated a potential to reduce these symptoms in women with inherited bleeding disorders or who are on anticoagulant therapies (drugs that lower the risk of developing dangerous blood clots). The head researcher of the small study was Andrea S. Lukes, MD, MHSc, former Director of Gynecology for the Women’s Hemostasis and Thrombosis Clinic at Duke University in Durham, NC. Lukes now directs the Carolina Women’s Research and Wellness Center in Raleigh.

Among the seven women ranging in age from 28 to 48 years old who participated in the study, four had von Willebrand disease (VWD) and four were on anticoagulation therapy, either warfarin or aspirin. One woman had VWD and factor V Leiden, the most common inherited thrombophilia. All of the participants had experience prolonged menstrual bleeding prior to the study.

Overall, five of the women, or 71%, experienced fewer bleeding days; the average number of days of bleeding dropped from nine per month to only three. These women also reported that the quality of their lives improved as the length of their menstrual cycles was shortened. The two other women, or 29% of the study participants, experienced no change in their bleeding symptoms. One woman in the study decided to have her IUD removed in order to become pregnant.

“In my opinion, the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) is a great choice for women with hemostatic disorders, for both contraception and for treatment of heavy periods,” said Lukes. “I consider it a safe and effective choice.”

Previous studies of IUDs and menorrhagia have also indicated the device’s ability to drastically reduce bleeding. Note that this study only measured the results of seven women. Future studies will need to be conducted on a larger number of participants to validate this use of the IUD.

The study, “Use of the Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine System in Women with Hemostatic Disorders,” was published in the September 2008 issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Source: Reuters, October 7, 2008


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