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Feature Article

Choices in hormonal contraception

Terri Foran

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Abstract

The wide range of choices now available in hormonal contraception, including new delivery systems and new progestogens, means that most women can find a hormonal contraceptive that suits their individual needs and preferences.

Key Points

  • Over the last 15 years there have been increases in the number of hormonal contraceptive preparations available and the range of systems for their delivery.
  • A wide range of contraceptive options is required to suit the different needs of women at various stages of their reproductive life.
  • An understanding of the properties of the various progestogens available in the combined oral contraceptive pill can assist the clinician in tailoring a preparation to best suit the individual woman’s needs.
  • The growing range of progestogen-only contraceptives represents a useful option for those women wishing to use hormonal contraception but who have medical contraindications to oestrogen or who have experienced side effects while using oestrogen-containing contraception in the past.
  • Ready access to emergency contraception is an important public health issue. There is now good evidence that levonorgestrel emergency contraception retains some effectiveness up to 120 hours after unprotected sex and that a single-dose regimen may be preferable to the divided dose previously recommended.

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