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Contraception. 1994 Aug;50(2):101-8.

Emergency contraception: a review.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.


In the Netherlands, many women use a postcoital method of contraception in "emergency" situations. Postcoital contraception started in the 1960's with the administration of large doses of estrogens: 50 mg diethylstilbestrol for 5 days or 5 mg ethinylestradiol for 5 days. In the eighties, a double-blind study compared the original hormonal therapy of 5 mg ethinylestradiol for 5 days with a combination pill containing just 0.1 mg in combination with 1 mg d1-norgestrel, of which two doses are give, the second 12 hours after the first. This method was as effective in preventing pregnancy as the original treatment with high estrogen dosage. Moreover, it resulted in women suffering less nausea and vomiting. One study from Hong Kong indicated that levonorgestrel without ethinylestradiol was as effective as the combination. Postcoital use of an intrauterine device to prevent pregnancy can be used as an alternative to the hormonal method. A recent development is the use of an antiprogestagen pill: 600 mg Mifepristone on day 27 of the cycle; side effects are minimal and the success rate is high. Mifepristone should be registered and made available in all countries for this indication.

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