Clinical Review

2020 Update on contraception

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Two new products and approval of extended use for an existing IUS will give women more contraceptive options and will impact clinician counseling



A vaginal ring that can be reused for up to 1 year and a progestin-only pill (POP) with a wider window for missed pills are 2 of the novel contraceptive products introduced to the market this year. In addition, an ongoing study of the levonorgestrel 52-mg intrauterine system (IUS) continues to provide evidence on its extended duration of use, now approved through 6 years.

The segesterone acetate (SA) and ethinyl estradiol (EE) vaginal ring (Annovera) is new among contraceptive options. Segesterone acetate is a novel progestin that can be used only via nonoral routes; it binds specifically to progesterone receptors without estrogenic or antiandrogen effects.1 Unlike the etonogestrel and ethinyl estradiol ring (NuvaRing; for which generic products became available this past year), which is used for 1 cycle and then thrown away, the SA/EE ring is effective for 13 consecutive cycles. It does not require refrigeration when not in use.2 Because a single ring can be used for 13 cycles, users in locations without laws that mandate a 12-month supply of pills, patches, and rings need less frequent visits to the pharmacy or clinic.

Progestin-only contraceptive pills are an important option for patients who desire hormonal contraception and have contraindications to estrogen, such as migraines with aura, cardiovascular risk factors, and being in the early postpartum period.3 In the United States, current POPs contain norethindrone, which has a 3-hour window for missed pills4; a desogestrel-only pill available outside the United States has a 12-hour window.5 Both are provided as a 28-day pill pack for continuous use, and both result in undesirable bleeding patterns in some users.

The prolonged half-life of drospirenone, another progestin, gives it the potential to increase reliability in the setting of missed or delayed pills and improve bleeding patterns. A new POP contraceptive contains drospirenone (Slynd) and is available in a 28-day pack with a 24-day supply of hormone and a 4-day supply of placebo; it provides a window for missed pill use similar to that for combined hormonal contraception (CHC) as well as a placebo period for a timed withdrawal bleed.6,7

Liletta is a well-known levonorgestrel 52-mg IUS that was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015. An ongoing clinical trial has been the basis for approval of this IUS for use in increasing durations, from 3 years initially to 4 and then 5 years. The newest data indicate efficacy up to 6 years.8

Continue to: Combined hormonal vaginal system provides a year's contraception with an acceptable safety profile...


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