The Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine Device: A Wider Role Than Contraception


2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. National Women's Hospital, Private Bag 92 189. Auckland. New Zealand.


Summary: The Levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device (LNG IUD) provides excellent contraception; it may reduce the rate of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and ectopic pregnancy compared to other ‘modern’ copper releasing IUDs; it can safely be used in the puerperium for breast-feeding mothers, and it significantly reduces menstrual blood loss and pain. While it was developed primarily as a contraceptive, its potential role in managing heavy and painful menstruation and the symptoms of the climacteric may eventually be just as important. Amongst developed countries New Zealand and Australia have some of the highest hysterectomy rates. By the age of 50 years 1 in 4 women in New Zealand and 1 in 5 women in Australia will have had a hysterectomy (A, B). In New Zealand 90% of these are performed for heavy menstrual bleeding and fibroids (A). The LNG IUD has been shown to be effective treatment for both these conditions and its introduction to New Zealand and Australia would offer women an additional choice beyond surgery.