Background. Heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) is a common problem in women of reproductive age. In 2008, the Dutch guideline for general practitioners (GPs) was revised to recommend the levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) as a first-choice treatment for HMB. However, GP prescribing practices have not been studied in depth.
Objectives. To investigate the incidence and initial treatment of HMB in general practice, and to identify if there were changes in prescribing practices after the revision of the national guideline in 2008.
Methods. Retrospective analysis of data from the Registration Network Groningen, the Netherlands. We selected data for prescriptions and referrals related to women consulting their GP for HMB between 2004 and 2013. We calculated the incidence rates and investigated potential trends in prescribing over time, with particular attention to the prescribing of LNG-IUS.
Results. Over 10 years, 881 women consulted their GP for HMB, with a mean annual incidence of 9.3 per 1000 person years (95% confidence interval: 8.5-10.2). Most women received hormonal treatment (406/881; 46%) within three months of diagnosis, but many (387/881; 44%) received no medication. The LNG-IUS was prescribed for 2.4%, but there was no significant increase in the number of prescriptions over time.
Conclusion. In this cohort, most women with HMB were treated with oral hormone therapy, and few received the LNG-IUS. If patients are to benefit from the LNG-IUS, further research is needed into the reasons for this lack of change in prescribing practices.
- Cohort studies
- general practice
- intrauterine devices