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Clin Med Insights Reprod Health. 2011 Sep 19;5:49-54. doi: 10.4137/CMRH.S5030. eCollection 2011 Sep 19.

The new extended-cycle levonorgestrel-ethinyl estradiol oral contraceptives.

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Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA.
Associate Program Director and Site Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Allegheny General Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Effective contraceptive counseling requires an understanding of a woman's preferences and medical history as well as the risks, benefits, side effects, and contraindications of each contraceptive method. Hormonal contraceptives using a variety of delivery methods are highly effective and this review highlights the new extended-cycle levonorgestrel-ethinyl estradiol contraceptives. Extended-cycle OCPs are unique in offering fewer or no withdrawal bleeds over the course of one year but providers need to carefully counsel women regarding the initial increased breakthrough bleeding. Extended-cycle OCPs may be of particular benefit in women with medical comorbidities who would benefit from less withdrawal bleeds, those desiring to avoid monthly menses due to increased hormonal withdrawal symptoms, or simply women who don't desire a monthly period. The risks associated with all extended-cycle OCPs have been found to be similar to those of traditional OCPs therefore counseling on the risks and side effects is comparable to that of any combined hormonal contraceptives. Newer extended-cycle regimens shorten or eliminate the hormone-free interval, decrease frequency of menses to four times per year or eliminate menses altogether. This can reduce the risk of common menstrual symptoms, endometriosis, or severe dysmenorrhea by offering potentially greater ovarian suppression and preventing endogenous estradiol production while still providing highly effective, rapidly reversible, and safe contraception.


contraceptive; extended cycle; levonorgestrel

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