Send to

Choose Destination
Hum Reprod Update. 1999 Nov-Dec;5(6):688-706.

Oral contraceptives and venous thromboembolic disease. Analyses of the UK General Practice Research Database and the UK Mediplus database.

Author information

European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.


The results of three independent studies of venous thromboembolic disease (VTE) and oral contraceptives are reviewed together with two further cohort/case-control studies which we conducted using the MediPlus and General Practice Research Database (GPRD) databases. These latter studies jointly involved 395 cases and uniquely examined the association between VTE and individual combined oral contraceptive (COC) formulations. The two studies yielded very similar results. Crude incidence rates for idiopathic VTE of 4.6 and 3.8 were found per 10,000 exposed woman-years (EWY), in the MediPlus and GPRD studies respectively. Incidence rates increased markedly with age, and in both databases the rates amongst users of levonorgestrel products were lower than those amongst users of desogestrel and gestodene products. A case fatality rate of 3% and a mortality rate of 10 per million EWY were estimated. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated for confounding variables and different COC formulations. Both database studies indicated an excess of current smokers and women with high body mass indices amongst cases. There were significantly more cases with asthma in the GPRD study and cases who had been using their COC for less than a year. No statistically significant differences between COC formulations were found in the analyses where controls were matched to cases by practice and year of birth in both the MediPlus and GPRD studies. In the GPRD study we also ran a study where controls were matched by practice and within 5 year age bands. In this study the OR were consistently higher for the newer or 'third generation' products than when controls were matched by year of birth. However only the acne formulation/OC containing cyproterone acetate and 35 microg ethinyloestradiol yielded a significant OR of 2.3. It may be concluded that improvements in prescribing are paramount as the results strongly indicate that overweight women and those who smoke are at a greater risk of VTE. Further study is required to elucidate the possibility that asthma or its treatment may predispose to VTE, alone or in combination with other risk factors. However, neither the MediPlus nor GPRD studies indicate that any one COC formulation poses a greater risk of VTE than another.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center