Background: Combined oral contraceptives (COCs) containing various progestogens could be associated with differential risks for venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Objective: To evaluate the comparative risks of VTE associated with the use of low-dose (less than 50 μg ethinyl estradiol) COCs containing different progestogens.
Search strategy: PubMed and the Cochrane Library were searched from database inception through September 15, 2016, by combining search terms for oral contraception and venous thrombosis.
Selection criteria: Studies reporting VTE risk estimates among healthy users of progestogen-containing low-dose COCs were included.
Data collection and analysis: A random-effects model was used to generate pooled adjusted risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals; subgroup and sensitivity analyses assessed the impact of monophasic-COC use and study-level characteristics.
Main results: There were 22 articles included in the analysis. The use of COCs containing cyproterone acetate, desogestrel, drospirenone, or gestodene was associated with a significantly increased risk of VTE compared with the use of levonorgestrel-containing COCs (pooled risk ratios 1.5-2.0). The analysis restricted to monophasic COC formulations with 30 μg of ethinyl estradiol yielded similar findings. After adjustment for study characteristics, the risk estimates were slightly attenuated.
Conclusions: Compared with the use of levonorgestrel-containing COCs, the use of COCs containing other progestogens could be associated with a small increase in risk for VTE.
Keywords: Combined oral contraceptives; Hormonal contraception; Meta-analysis; Risk; Systematic review; Venous thromboembolism.
© 2018 World Health Organization; licensed by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics.