An Update on Contraceptive Therapy Options

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Abstract

The introduction of new contraception formulations and different routes of administration offers women more options when choosing birth control methods. Despite new options, there are still risks to consider when prescribing contraception to women on an individual basis. In the past 5 years alone, there has been the introduction of extended and continuous cycle oral contraceptives, a new subdermal implant, and shorter hormone-free intervals in 28-day cycles. Cardiovascular risks including stroke, myocardial infarction, and venous thromboembolism are risks that must still be considered in certain populations. In 2005, the Food Drug and Administration issued a press release concerning the higher exposure to estrogen in the transdermal patch compared with 35-μg oral contraceptives. This statement led to concerns of serious adverse events. Women who have no contraindications for contraception continue to struggle with adherence to daily, weekly, and even monthly regimens. Patients must take responsibility for taking their contraception as scheduled or risk becoming pregnant. The relationship of weight and efficacy of combined hormonal contraception is a concern that many health care practitioners have, and unfortunately, the data available do not answer the question at this time. The most important aspect of prescribing contraception is communication with the patient. Taking complete histories and prescribing contraceptive methods on an individualized basis will offer the patient the optimal method available to the patient.

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