Study Aims to Broaden Available EC Regimens

Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa is the only U.S. Site

An international study, conducted by the Population Council and partner clinics, aims to broaden the emergency contraception regimens currently available. The study will answer several important questions:

Can more brands of currently available birth control pills be used?
Many brands of oral contraceptive pills are available in the United States, but only some of them – tthose containing two specific hormones, the estrogen ethinyl estradiol and the progestin levonorgestrel -?aare currently offered for emergency contraception. Many more brands of pills contain a different progestin, norethindrone, rather than levonorgestrel. Pills containing norethindrone may be as effective as those containing levonorgestrel, as long as the dosage level of the estrogen, ethinyl estradiol, is the same. If so, a much wider choice of pills could be used for emergency contraception.
Is the second dose necessary?
Emergency contraceptive pills are now given in two doses?a first dose within 72 hours following unprotected intercourse, followed by a second dose twelve hours later. The second dose may not be necessary. It also causes side effects in many women. If one dose alone is just as effective, it will make taking emergency contraceptive pills easier and cheaper, and may reduce the side effects for many women.
Can emergency contraceptive pills be used beyond the 72 hour period?
If the study finds that emergency contraceptive pills can still be effective up to four or even five days after unprotected intercourse, many women may find it easier to seek treatment. Extra time to initiate treatment could be valuable for women who live far away from a service provider, whose clinic is closed over the weekend, or who otherwise cannot obtain the pills within a 72 hour period.

This study is taking place at two clinics in Great Britain and at Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa. In Iowa, three Planned Parenthood clinics are participating: Ames, Iowa City and the Central clinic in Des Moines. If you are interested in participating in the study at the Iowa sites, please call the following numbers for an appointment:

Not all women are eligible for the study or would choose to participate, but everyone who requests emergency contraception will receive it, whether they participate in the study or not. The Planned Parenthood clinics also offer testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive supplies and information, pregnancy testing and full pregnancy options counseling, as well as emergency contraception.