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Hormone withdrawal-associated symptoms with ethinylestradiol 20 µg/drospirenone 3 mg (24/4 regimen) versus ethinylestradiol 20 µg/desogestrel 150 µg (21/7 regimen)

Authors Bitzer J, Banal-Silao MJ, Ahrendt H, Restrepo J, Hardtke M, Wissinger-Graefenhahn U, Trummer D

Received 22 November 2014

Accepted for publication 9 February 2015

Published 18 May 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 501—509


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Johannes Bitzer,1 Maria Jesusa Banal-Silao,2 Hans-Joachim Ahrendt,3 Jaime Restrepo,4 Marion Hardtke,5 Ulrike Wissinger-Graefenhahn,6 Dietmar Trummer7

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of Basel, Basel, Switzerland; 2University of the Philippines College of Medicine, Manila, Philippines; 3Praxis für Frauenheilkunde, Klinische Forschung und Weiterbildung (Clinical Research and Further Education), Magdeburg, Germany; 4Centro de Investigación Clínica, Clinica Medellin Poblado, Medellin, Colombia; 5Global Clinical Development Operations, Bayer Pharma AG, Berlin, Germany; 6Global Medical Affairs Women’s Healthcare, Bayer Pharma AG, Berlin, Germany; 7Clinical Statistics Europe, Bayer Pharma AG, Berlin, Germany

Objective: To assess whether the combined oral contraceptive (COC) ethinylestradiol (EE) 20 µg/drospirenone 3 mg taken in a 24/4-day regimen (ie, 4-day hormone-free interval) is more effective than an EE 20 µg/desogestrel (DSG) 150 µg COC taken in a 21/7-day regimen (ie, 7-day hormone-free interval) in reducing hormone withdrawal-associated symptoms (HWAS).
Methods: This double-blind, randomized study (NLM identifier: NCT01076582) was conducted at 34 centers in 12 countries. Otherwise healthy women who experienced ≥2 HWAS of headache, pelvic pain, and/or bloating when using their current COCs in a 21/7-day regimen were recruited. Subjects rated the severity of their HWAS daily on a seven-point Likert scale during a baseline cycle and during four 28-day cycles with EE/drospirenone 24/4 (n=290) or EE/DSG 21/7 (n=304). The primary variable was the mean change from baseline to cycle 4 in the composite HWAS score (sum of scores for all three symptoms) during cycle days 22–28.
Results: In the EE/drospirenone 24/4 group, the mean (standard deviation) composite HWAS score during cycle days 22–28 was reduced from 42.2 (24.8) at baseline to 12.8 (13.4) at cycle 4 (change from baseline: -30.3 [22.9]). In the EE/DSG 21/7 group, the corresponding value was reduced from 41.9 (25.8) to 14.3 (13.2) (change from baseline: -27.7 [24.8]), not significantly different versus EE/drospirenone 24/4. Bleeding pattern, treatment response, rescue medication use, compliance, quality of life, and tolerability were similar between treatments.
Conclusion: Both EE/drospirenone 24/4 and EE/DSG 21/7 reduced the composite HWAS score from baseline to cycle 4 in otherwise healthy women. The differences between treatments were too small to be statistically significant.

Keywords: combined oral contraceptives, ethinylestradiol, drospirenone, desogestrel, hormone withdrawal

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