Yasmin: the reason why.Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care 2002; 7 Suppl 3:13-8; discussion 42-3EJ
Oral contraceptives have been available for a little over 40 years and, during that time, many different formulations have been introduced. There have been dramatic dosage reductions of both the estrogen and progestogen components and various progestogens have been introduced over time. The properties of most progestogens used in oral contraceptives are very similar, differing mainly in potency. Oral contraceptives with progestogens having new and unique properties are needed. World-wide, around 20-30% of women of childbearing age use oral contraceptives and their use declines after the age of 35 years, with an accompanying increase in the rates of unintended pregnancy and elective termination. Incorrect use likewise gives rise to high unintended pregnancy rates. Use in Europe is higher than in other regions. Discontinuation because of unwanted effects and misperceptions is very common. Common misperceptions that prevent women from initiating oral contraceptive use are weight gain, cancer risks and that bleeding indicates a significant problem. Unwanted effects that commonly give rise to discontinuation are bleeding, nausea, weight gain, mood changes, breast tenderness and headaches. Discontinuation rates are high, particularly in the first year, and adolescents have the highest rates of discontinuation. Correct consistent use must be encouraged by taking pills at a regular time each day and by reinforcing that bleeding and other unwanted effects are not medically serious. Reinforcement of the non-contraceptive health benefits is very important and it needs to be emphasized that long-term use enhances these non-contraceptive benefits. Most non-contraceptive benefits are due to the progestogen component and its inhibition of ovulation. The new drospirenone-containing oral contraceptive (Yasmin, Schering AG, Berlin, Germany) offers the traditional non-contraceptive benefits; however, due to its unique antimineralocorticoid and antiandrogenic properties, new and unique benefits have been observed. Acne is well controlled, as would be expected from its inhibition of ovulation, antiandrogenic activity and lack of attenuation of the estrogen-mediated increase in sex hormone binding globulin. Its antimineralocorticoid activity gives rise to a reduction in fluid-related symptoms. The oral contraceptive containing 3 mg drospirenone with 30 microg ethinylestradiol DRSP/EE) has excellent efficacy since drospirenone is a potent progestogen, the corrected Pearl index being 0.09. This index is lower than those of many other oral contraceptives. Cycle control is excellent and comparable to that experienced with other oral contraceptives. A significant and consistent weight loss was seen with DRSP/EE compared to a reference preparation containing desogestrel. Day-to-day compliance and the duration of intake of an oral contraceptive are dependent on the woman's satisfaction with the pill she is taking. DRSP/EE meets these expectations and, with its new and unique non-contraceptive benefits, offers a real new choice to women.