Effects of an extended flexible regimen of an oral contraceptive pill containing 20 μg ethinylestradiol and 3 mg drospirenone on menstrual-related symptoms: a randomised controlled trial.Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2017 Feb; 22(1):11-16.EJ
The aim of the study was to assess the efficacy for menstrual-related symptoms of an extended flexible regimen of an oral contraceptive pill containing 20 μg ethinylestradiol and 3 mg drospirenone in comparison with a 24/4 d cyclical regimen of the same formulation.
This randomised, non-inferiority, open-label, multicentre study was conducted in women aged 18-39 years. Their menstrual-related symptoms were assessed using the Penn Daily Symptom Rating (DSR17). Participants were randomised to use an extended flexible regimen of 20 μg ethinylestradiol and 3 mg drospirenone (EE/DRSPe.flex), comprising 168 consecutive days with a 4-d hormone-free interval (HFI, allowing for management of unexpected bleeding) or a conventional 24/4 cyclical regimen of the same pill (EE/DRSP24/4). The primary measure of efficacy was the percentage change in DSR17 total score from baseline to cycle 6. The secondary measures of efficacy were the percentage changes in DSR17 total score from baseline after each 28-d interval throughout the entire study and in the scores for individual DSR17 symptoms.
The primary analysis demonstrated that EE/DRSPe.flex was not inferior to EE/DRSP24/4 (Mean DSR17 score 9.1; 95% confidence interval (CI) - 2.5, 20.6; p = 0.123). Analysis at intervals throughout the entire evaluation period showed greater reduction in DSR17 total score for EE/DRSPe.flex than for the 24/4 regimen (p < 0.001). The decreases in individual scores for the symptoms 'poor coordination' and 'depression/feeling sad/down or blue' were greater for the extended flexible regimen than for the cyclical regimen (p < 0.05).
The extended flexible regimen was not inferior to the 24/4 cyclical regimen in terms of the primary endpoint. It significantly improved symptoms in the interval analysis, and the effects on specific DSR17 symptoms, compared with the cyclical regimen.