Progesterone vaginal ring as a new contraceptive option for lactating mothers: Evidence from a multicenter non-randomized comparative clinical trial in India

Contraception. 2020 Sep;102(3):159-167. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2020.04.016. Epub 2020 May 1.


Objectives: Evaluate and compare contraceptive efficacy, safety, continuation rates and duration of lactational amenorrhea (LA) in married lactating women (20-35 years) using the progesterone vaginal ring (PVR) or Copper-T380A intrauterine device (IUD) during the first postpartum year.

Study design: We conducted a one-year multicenter, non-randomized, non-inferiority, open-label, comparative trial at 20 centers in India and compared efficacy, safety, continuation and LA plus feeding patterns and growth/well-being of participants' infants. Women used four 3-month PVRs consecutively (lost PVRs were not replaced) and were to breastfeed at least four times/day. We used Pearl Index (PI) and Kaplan Meier (K-M) rates to analyze pregnancy and K-M for continuation.

Results: We enrolled 789 women (459 PVR, 330 IUD). Neither PI nor K-M one-year pregnancy rates differed significantly between groups (PI: PVR-0.62; IUD-0.35); (K-M: PVR-0.7; IUD-0.4, p = 0.58). Continuation rates at 12 months were 78.5% (IUD) vs. 56.9% (PVR) (p < 0.001). Ring expulsions and menorrhagia were the most common discontinuation among PVR/IUD users respectively. The median duration of LA among PVR vs. IUD users was 405 vs. 120 days (p < 0.001). Both groups reported similar adverse events (PVR: 24.2%; IUD: 23.0%); there were no serious adverse events among PVR users. Infants from both groups fed 12-7 times/day and grew at expected rates.

Conclusions: Efficacy and safety outcomes were comparable among women in both groups. Continuation rates for PVR, a woman-controlled method, were shorter than IUD rates while PVR users maintained LA significantly longer than IUD users. Infant breastfeeding and growth patterns/well-being were favorable in both groups.

Implications: PVR, a user-controlled device, offers an additional contraceptive choice for lactating women for one-year postpartum use and can help to address the unmet need for contraception among postpartum women while encouraging breastfeeding to enhance infant growth and well-being.

Keywords: Continuation rate; Lactational amenorrhea; Postpartum contraception; Progesterone vaginal ring; User-controlled.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Contraceptive Devices, Female*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intrauterine Devices, Copper*
  • Lactation
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone


  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Progesterone