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Feature Article

An updated guide to contraception. Part 1: Short-acting methods

Kathleen McNamee, Caroline Harvey, Mary Stewart, Deborah Bateson

Figures

© RICCARDO PICCININI/SHUTTERSTOCK MODELS USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY
© RICCARDO PICCININI/SHUTTERSTOCK MODELS USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY

Abstract

This first article in an updated three-part series on contraception provides a practical guide to the short-acting methods – combined hormonal contraceptives (combined oral contraceptives and the vaginal ring) and the progestogen-only pill. Subsequent articles will provide updates on othe contraceptive methods.

Key Points

  • Combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs), which contain an oestrogen and a progestogen, are available as combined oral contraceptives (COCs) and the vaginal ring.
  • The advantages of CHCs include beneficial effects on acne, a decrease in menstrual pain and bleeding and the ability to manipulate menstrual cycles.
  • CHC use is associated with some serious risks, but the absolute risk is low for most women of reproductive age.
  • No increased risk of venous thromboembolism or arterial vascular disease has been associated with use of the progestogen-only pill (POP), although evidence is limited.
  • The option of using long-acting reversible contraceptives (intrauterine devices and subdermal implants), which require minimal ongoing user actions, should be discussed with women renewing CHC and POP prescriptions.

Figures

© RICCARDO PICCININI/SHUTTERSTOCK MODELS USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY
© RICCARDO PICCININI/SHUTTERSTOCK MODELS USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY