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Continuous Contraceptive Pill Is Safe and Inhibits Menses

Pill contains a single dose of levonorgestrel plus ethinyl estradiol

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- A continuous daily contraceptive pill containing levonorgestrel plus ethinyl estradiol inhibits menses and is as safe as traditional cyclic oral contraceptives, according to study findings published in the December issue of Contraception. However, about one in five women (18.5 percent) withdrew from the study due to uterine bleeding.

David F. Archer, M.D., of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, and colleagues examined the safety and efficacy of a daily pill containing 90 micrograms levonorgestrel plus 20 micrograms ethinyl estradiol in 2,134 healthy, sexually active women for 12 months. About 52.1 percent of women withdrew from the study on their own or with the researchers' recommendation for a variety of reasons.

The researchers found that after one year, 58.7 percent of the 921 women who completed the study reported amenorrhea and 79 percent reported an absence of bleeding. Bleeding and spotting decreased with time, and adverse events and discontinuations were similar to cyclic oral contraceptives. Nineteen women became pregnant during the study: 15 due to method failure and four due to user failure.

"Continuous levonorgestrel/ethinyl estradiol demonstrated a good safety profile and efficacy similar to cyclic oral contraceptives," Archer and colleagues conclude. "The regimen continuously inhibited menses, increased the incidence of amenorrhea over time and, except for a subset of women, decreased the number of bleeding and spotting days."

The study was funded by Wyeth Research, which markets the formulation as Lybrel.

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