More treatment options for women requiring emergency contraception

December 05, 2002

Results of an international study in this week's issue of THE LANCET suggest that there are three effective therapeutic options for women requiring emergency contraception after sexual intercourse.

Hormone treatment with a single 10 mg dose of mifepristone, and two 0.75 mg doses of levonorgestrel 12 hours apart are known to be effective for emergency contraception--however there is no evidence to suggest that one treatment may be better than another, or that one dose of levonorgestrel may be as effective as two separate doses.

Helena von Hertzen and colleagues from the World Health Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland, did a randomised trial in 15 family-planning clinics in 10 countries. 4136 healthy women with regular menstrual cycles who requested emergency contraception within five days of unprotected sexual intercourse were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: 10 mg single-dose mifepristone; 1.5 mg single-dose levonorgestrel; or two doses of 0.75 mg levonorgestrel given 12 hours apart.

There were no significant differences in pregnancy rates or side-effects between the three groups, with an average pregnancy rate of around 1.6%; most women menstruated within 2 days of the expected date, although women given levonorgestrel menstruated earlier than women given mifepristone.

Helena von Hertzen comments: "Our findings show that the levonorgestrel dose does not need to be split, but that a single dose of 1.5 mg can be used. The use of a single dose simplifies the use of levonorgestrel for emergency contraception without an increase in side-effects. Compared with mifepristone, either of the levonorgestrel regimens has the advantage of being associated with early, rather than late, menses after treatment. With early or on-time menses, women are relieved from anxiety about an unwanted pregnancy sooner, and can begin a regular and effective method of contraception more quickly than if menstruation is delayed. Evidence of higher efficacy with earlier treatment from this trial was weak, suggesting that further research is needed. Even if a declining trend in efficacy with time is verified, the regimens studied still prevent a high proportion of pregnancies even up to 5 days after intercourse."
Contact: Dr Helena von Hertzen, UNDP/UNFPA/WHO, World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, WHO 1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland, T) +41 22 791 3373/3462; F) +41 22 791 4171; E)


Related Contraception Articles from Brightsurf:

Changes in birth rates after elimination of cost sharing for contraception
Researchers assessed changes in birth rates by income level among commercially insured women before and after the elimination of cost sharing for contraception under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Buying emergency contraception is legal but not always easy at small, mom-and-pop pharmacies
Amie Ashcraft has studied the availability and accessibility of emergency contraception in West Virginia pharmacies.

Paying GPs to provide contraception information linked to reduced abortions
Providing general practitioners (GPs) with financial incentives to offer information about long-acting contraceptives, such as the hormonal implant, is associated with an increase in their use, and a fall in the number of abortions .

Age-appropriate contraception counseling helps health care providers educate teens
Preventing unplanned pregnancies in adolescents with effective and easy-to-use contraception is key to ensuring that adolescents do not become parents before they are ready.

Cost prevents one in five US women from using their preferred contraception
Recent Supreme Court Ruling Will Increase Birth Control Costs for Many Women, Make it Less Likely They Will Use the Birth Control They Want

Rochester community initiative increases teenage use of effective contraception
Study finds that teenagers in Rochester utilize Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) at a rate five times higher than the United States as a whole.

Birth and pregnancy experts fail to deliver on contraception advice
Health care professionals who provide contraceptive services outside of general practice are unlikely to discuss long-acting reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants for women without children -- despite their proven safety, effectiveness and convenience.

Experiences of undesired effects of hormonal contraception
A study of women who experienced mental ill-health from a hormonal contraception indicates they value their mental well-being higher than a satisfactory sex life.

Changes to Title X mean contraception access for teens could worsen nationwide, study shows
Texas teens lost access to confidential family planning services due to family planning budget cuts and loss of Title X funds, says a new study led by the University of Colorado College of Nursing just published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Long-acting contraception has proven highly effective but is restricted by some hospitals
Long-acting reversible contraceptives like intrauterine implants have greatly reduced unintended pregnancies and abortions, but government protections allowing religious hospitals to restrict care are limiting access to health care consumers, according to an expert at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Read More: Contraception News and Contraception Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to