Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lybrel - A Continuous Oral Contraceptive

The FDA recently approved Lybrel, a new oral contraceptive, which is taken continuously through the year without a pill-free interval. The pills contain levonorgestrel (.09 mg) and ethinyl estradiol (20 mcg).
This type of regimen may be useful in women in whom oral contraceptives are used to treat painful menses (dysmenorrhea), endometriosis, acne, and polycystic ovary syndrome. It may also be more effective than cyclic contraceptives in improving menstrual related headaches and mood changes.
Continuous oral contraceptive use should eventually eliminate menstruation. However, unexpected bleeding is the most common side effect. The incidence of breakthrough bleeding decreases with time. In clinical studies, about half of the women had bleeding at pack 3, and 20% at pack 13.
It should be noted that the long-term effects of continuous regimens have not been evaluated.
References: please see links.
Photo: courtesy of Slate.