Extended regimen combined oral contraception: A review of evolving concepts and acceptance by women and clinicians

Rossella E Nappi, Andrew M. Kaunitz, Johannes Bitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The clinical utility of extended regimen combined oral contraceptives (COCs) is increasingly being recognised. Our objective was to understand the attitudes of women and clinicians about the use of these regimens. We present the rationale for extended regimen COCs from a historical perspective, and trace their evolution and growing popularity in light of their clinical benefits. We conclude by offering potential strategies for counselling women about extended regimen COC options.

METHODS: We conducted a MEDLINE search to identify and summarise studies of extended regimen COCs, focusing on attitudes of women and clinicians regarding efficacy, safety/tolerability and fewer scheduled bleeding episodes and other potential benefits.

RESULTS: The body of contemporary literature on extended regimen COCs suggests that their contraceptive efficacy is comparable to that of conventional 28-day (i.e., 21/7) regimens. For women seeking contraception that allows infrequent scheduled bleeding episodes, particularly those who suffer from hormone withdrawal symptoms and cyclical symptoms (e.g., headache, mood changes, dysmenorrhoea, heavy menstrual bleeding), extended regimen COCs are an effective and safe option. Although satisfaction with extended regimen COCs in clinical trials is high, misperceptions about continuous hormone use may still limit the widespread acceptance of this approach.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the widespread acceptance among clinicians of extended regimen COCs as an effective and safe contraceptive option, these regimens are underused, likely due to a lack of awareness about their availability and utility among women. Improved patient education and counselling regarding the safety and benefits of extended regimen COCs may help women make more informed contraceptive choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-15
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstruation
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review


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