Extended-use OCs remain mystery to most women

April 15, 2004



When it comes to suppressing menstruation with extended-use oral contraceptives, most women would welcome the option but had never heard of it before. At least that's what a nationwide study sponsored by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) found.

About 6 out of 10 women agreed or strongly agreed that they'd be "pleased" if they could use a birth control method that suppressed menstruation for a certain amount of time, according to the study. About 7 out of 10 agreed or strongly agreed that they would suppress their periods if they were sure there were no adverse effects.

But 73% of the women surveyed said they had never heard of menstrual suppression before taking the survey. Moreover, 80% said their health-care providers had never offered to write prescriptions for birth control pills to skip periods.

Could this be due to a lack of knowledge on the part of clinicians? Not according to the survey. More than 81% of health-care providers have heard of menstrual suppression, yet only about 22% offer extended-use contraceptives to all patients on birth control pills.

Moreover, most health-care providers cited patient requests and therapeutic reasons such as dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, or endometriosis as the top factors influencing their decision to prescribe extended-use contraceptives to suppress menstruation.

The ARHP's Menstrual Suppression Study, which was funded through an unrestricted educational grant from Barr Laboratories, was based on written surveys of 1,500 women, clinician interviews of 18 women, and written surveys of 500 clinicians.