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Fertil Steril. 2007 Sep;88(3):565-71. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Levonorgestrel emergency contraception: a joint analysis of effectiveness and mechanism of action.

Author information

1
Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany. rmikolajczyk@uni-bielefeld.de <rmikolajczyk@uni-bielefeld.de>

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To model the effectiveness that can be obtained if levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception (EC) acts only through disrupting ovulation, in relation to other effects that may occur before or after fertilization and accounting for delays in administration.

DESIGN:

We modeled follicular growth as a function of follicular size, using known day-specific probabilities of conception and known disruption of ovulation by levonorgestrel-only EC, to estimate the expected effectiveness of EC.

SETTING:

Combined data from multiple clinical studies.

PATIENT(S):

Simulation models.

INTERVENTION(S):

Disruption of ovulation.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):

Effectiveness in the form of proportion of pregnancies prevented.

RESULT(S):

With disruption of ovulation alone, the potential effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC ranged from 49% (no delay) to 8% (72-hour delay). With complete inhibition of fertilization before the day of ovulation, the potential effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC ranged from 90% (no delay) to 16% (72-hour delay).

CONCLUSION(S):

The gap between effectiveness of levonorgestrel EC estimated from clinical studies and what can be attributed to disruption of ovulation may be explained by overestimation of actual effectiveness and supplementary mechanisms of action, including postfertilization effects. Additional data with follicular ultrasound and precise measures of delay between intercourse and EC administration would yield greater insight into effectiveness and mechanisms of action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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