The effect of the levonorgestrel releasing intrauterine system on endometrial hyperplasia: An Australian study and systematic review


: Dr Penelope Webb, Genetics and Population Health Division, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston, Brisbane, Qld 4029, Australia. Email:


Background: The levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) provides effective contraception and treatment for menorrhagia and is used to prevent endometrial hyperplasia (EH) in women taking unopposed oestrogens.

Aims: The aim of this study was to assess whether the LNG-IUS was also a safe and effective treatment for EH and to conduct a systematic review of the literature.

Methods: A retrospective record review was undertaken in a private gynaecology practice in Brisbane, Australia, and included all women with EH treated with hysterectomy, oral progestins or LNG-IUS between January 2004 and April 2007. Histopathological findings from hysterectomy specimens or endometrial biopsies were used to calculate rates of regression of the EH.

Results: Twenty-one women elected to have a hysterectomy and seven of those (33%) had no persisting hyperplasia at surgery. Twenty-six women had a LNG-IUS inserted at initial hysteroscopy dilatation and curettage or shortly afterwards; seven of those elected to proceed to hysterectomy when their diagnosis was known. Among ten women who used oral progestin treatment, 90% showed initial regression; two with recurrent EH were subsequently treated successfully with LNG-IUS. All 21 women (100%), including one with atypia, treated with LNG-IUS for more than seven weeks had normal endometrial histology on subsequent assessment. No women developed endometrial cancer. Pooled analysis of the published literature gave a 96% regression rate for non-atypical EH treated with LNG-IUS.

Conclusions: These data contribute further evidence that LNG-IUS is a safe and effective method for treating non-atypical EH. Whether LNG-IUS could provide a safe and cost-effective alternative to hysterectomy for atypical EH warrants further examination.