Contraception VTE risk: update and new consultation resources

The risk of thromboembolism associated with combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs) is small, a review of the latest evidence has confimed.

Women should be reminded to read the patient information leaflet for combined hormonal contraceptives and to mention they are taking the contraceptive pill if asked whether they are taking any other medicines. | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Women should be reminded to read the patient information leaflet for combined hormonal contraceptives and to mention they are taking the contraceptive pill if asked whether they are taking any other medicines. | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Consistent with previous understanding, the European review indicated that the level of VTE risk with all low-dose CHCs (ethinylestradiol <50 microgram) is small and products with the lowest risk are those containing the progestogens levonorgestrel, norethisterone, and norgestimate.

The MHRA confirmed that the benefits of any CHC continue to far outweigh the risk of serious side-effects, and there is no need for any woman to change her CHC on the basis of the findings.

As part of the review, the following resources have been made available to help prescribers during contraceptive consultations:

  • A prescribing checklist that specifies the contraindications to use of CHCs and factors that increase a woman’s risk of VTE (such as older age, obesity, prolonged immobilisation, surgery, personal history of thromboembolism, smoking etc)
  • A user card for women describing the signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and heart attack and states when the risk of a thromboembolism may be particularly high
  • An information sheet providing more detailed information for women on the risk of thromboembolism with CHCs in the form of questions and answers. 

More information (including links to resources): Drug Safety Update February 2014

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