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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Jun;186(6):1142-9.

Acceptance of altering the standard 21-day/7-day oral contraceptive regimen to delay menses and reduce hormone withdrawal symptoms.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Scott & White Clinic, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple 76058, USA. psulak@swmail.sw.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Measure acceptance and use of extending the number of active oral contraceptive (OC) pills beyond 21 days and/or shortening the hormone-free interval to reduce the frequency and severity of hormone withdrawal symptoms.

STUDY DESIGN:

A retrospective review was performed of patients on OCs with unwanted hormone withdrawal symptoms who were counseled by one osbtetrician-gynecologist (P. J. S.) on altering their standard 21/7 regimen. All patients used a monophasic 30 to 35 microg pill and underwent an initial counseling visit between December 1993 and October 2000.

RESULTS:

Of 318 patients counseled on "extending the number of active pills," 292 (92%) had documented follow-up after the initial counseling session. The primary reason for extending the number of active pills was to decrease symptoms of headache (35%), dysmenorrhea (21%), hypermenorrhea (19%), and premenstrual symptoms (13%). The remaining 12% of patients cited convenience, endometriosis, and other reasons such as menstrual-associated acne. Twenty-five (9%) of 292 chose not to extend, with a preference for monthly menses as the most common reason (40%) followed by a concern that symptoms were not severe enough to warrant extension (32%). Of 267 patients who initiated an extended regimen, 57 discontinued OCs, 38 returned to a standard regimen, and 172 were extending use at the time of last follow-up. Using survival analysis methods, at 5 years 46% +/- 5% (mean +/- SE) of patients continued an extended OC pattern. The regimen of OC use by patients continuing an extended pattern was 12 +/- 12 (mean +/- SD) weeks of active pills (median of 9 weeks and range to 104 weeks) with pill-free interval of 6 +/- 2 days (median of 5 days and range of 0-7 days).

CONCLUSION:

The majority of patients with hormone withdrawal symptoms on OCs will initiate a regimen of extending active pills, often with a shortened hormone-free interval to reduce frequency and severity of associated symptoms.

PMID:
12066088
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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