Recent Advances in Oral and Transdermal Contraception

Peggy Piascik, PhD


US Pharmacist. 2008;33(9):19-23. 

In This Article


Contraceptive choices currently available in the United States provide safe, reliable, effective, and affordable birth control for virtually any patient. Products come in a variety of forms—tablet, patch, injection, implant, vaginal, and intrauterine. Current oral contraceptive products also contain novel progestins that have altered the scope of benefits and adverse effects.

The availability of new, effective contraceptive products in the last decade has not generated a significant decrease in the rate of unintended pregnancy. About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and more than one in five U.S. pregnancies ends in abortion.[1] A study of more than 10,000 women who requested an abortion found that 46% had not used a contraceptive method during the month they conceived.[2]

The number-one method of contraception in the U.S. is sterilization.[3] Many women who opt for sterilization before the age of 30 later express regret and report choosing sterilization because they didn't know that equally effective reversible options exist.[4] Combination oral contraceptives (COCs) are the most commonly used reversible form of birth control in the U.S.[3] By the third month, the typical user misses three or more pills each cycle.[5] These data suggest that the contraceptive needs of women are currently unmet ( Table 1 ). Health care providers (HCPs) must be knowledgeable about recent advances in birth control methods and able to discuss their pros and cons—including efficacy, adverse effects, and compliance issues—with individual patients.

Recent contraceptive advances discussed in this review include extendedcycle COCs, drospirenone-containing products, the chewable contraceptive pill, and emergency contraceptive options. Concerns about the Ortho Evra transdermal patch and desogestrelcontaining products also are discussed.


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