Monthly cycle contraception still more common than extended-cycle
MedWire News: Prescription of extended-cycle oral contraceptive (OC) regimens by healthcare professionals (HCPs) may be increasing, but traditional 21/7-day or the more recent 24/4-day cycles are still the most common regimens prescribed, show the results of a US survey.
Extended OC regimens eliminate the hormone-free interval (HFI), during which, women have previously reported symptoms including headaches, pelvic pain, bloating, swelling, and breast tenderness.
Patricia Sulak (Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, USA) and colleagues surveyed 799 HCPs in attendance at six educational conferences in the USA on their attitudes to and prescribing patterns of extended-cycle OCs. The majority (65 percent) specialized in obstetrics and gynecology.
Most HCPs (92 percent) agreed that extended-cycle OC regimens should be routinely offered to women who want the option of no monthly bleeding, and indeed the same number of HCPs reported already prescribing extended-cycles.
This demonstrates an increase in the number of HCPs who prescribed extended-cycles in 2004, when the figure was 81 percent according to a similar survey conducted by Sulak et al in that year.
Despite these high figures, however, 38.5 and 35.0 percent of HCPs reported 24-day pill/4-day HFI and 21-day pill/7-day HFI cycles as the most commonly prescribed OC regimen in their practice.
"Research supports the beneficial reduction in hormone withdrawal symptoms and greater pituitary suppression [associated with extended cycle OCs]," conclude the study authors.
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By Sarah Guy