Australian women are now able to use an oral contraceptive pill approved for continuous use without a break (or sugar pills) for up to 120 days, so they can choose when to have their periods (between 3-13 periods a year).
YAZ® Flex is indicated for use as an oral contraceptive and is made available with the Clyk™1 digital tablet dispenser, to guide women in managing this new, flexible, pill regimen. YAZ Flex (20 µg ethinyloestradiol and 3 mg drospirenone) is also approved for the treatment of moderate acne vulgaris in women who seek oral contraception.
Consultant in Family Planning, Reproductive and Sexual Health, Dr Christine Read, welcomes additional oral contraception options.
"Not all women are the same. Having a range of contraceptive options available allows women to choose the right one for them and their lifestyle.
"It is important that women talk to their doctor about the most appropriate options available to them," said Dr Read.
YAZ Flex (a prescription-only product) allows women to extend their cycle length from a 28-day conventional pill-taking cycle to a maximum 124-day cycle.
For some women, irregular bleeding (spotting or breakthrough bleeding) will occur when undertaking an extended regimen with YAZ Flex. It is important that women consult with a healthcare professional before taking YAZ Flex to determine their suitability and the most appropriate cycle length for them.
A recent Australian survey showed that the majority of women currently taking an oral contraceptive pill admitted they can forget to take it (82%), with around a third (31%) forgetting to take it at least once a month.
The Clyk digital tablet dispenser will store up to 30 YAZ Flex pills and, once activated, will tell women where they are in their pill cycle, advise and remind them when to take their pill, help them to avoid missing pills and get them back on track should they have any late or missed pills.
The Clyk digital tablet dispenser also informs users who have missed consecutive pills, or taken them irregularly, when they should use additional, non-hormonal methods of contraception, such as condoms.
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and Chair of the Asia Pacific Council on Contraception, Professor Soo-Keat Khoo, welcomes the new extended regimen and initiatives to help increase compliance.
"Together, YAZ Flex and Clyk present a new and flexible approach to contraception that also helps them remember to take their pill" said Professor Soo-Keat Khoo.
A website (www.myperiods.com.au) is available for women wishing to find more general information about periods and managing their period issues, such as period pain, heavy periods or delaying their period.
YAZ Flex is a flexible, extended-cycle oral contraceptive based on the conventional combined oral contraceptive (COC), YAZ.
The flexible extended-cycle oral contraceptive regimen of YAZ Flex allows women to decide when to take a four day tablet free break and have their periods between days 25 to 120 of the active tablet-taking cycle1.
Each YAZ Flex tablet contains 20 µg ethinyloestradiol and 3 mg drospirenone.
YAZ Flex is indicated for use as1:
an oral contraceptive
treatment of moderate acne vulgaris in women who seek oral contraception
The most common adverse effects include nausea, depression, depressive mood, headache (including migraine), breast pain, metrorrhagia, amenorrhoea, unscheduled uterine/genital tract bleeding and emotional lability.
Contraindications: Presence or a history of venous or arterial thrombotic/ thromboembolic events (e.g. deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction) or of a cerebrovascular accident, prodromi of a thrombosis (e.g. transient ischaemic attack, angina pectoris), diabetes mellitus with vascular involvement, severe hepatic disease (as long as liver function values have not returned to normal), liver tumours (benign or malignant), malignant conditions of the genital organs or the breasts (if sex-steroid influenced), migraine (with focal neurological symptoms), pancreatitis (or a history thereof if associated with severe hypertriglyceridemia), undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, severe renal insufficiency or acute renal failure, known or suspected pregnancy (Category B3) and hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients contained in YAZ Flex.
Precautions: Circulatory disorders, age, smoking, obesity, family history of VTE or DVT, dyslipoproteinaemia, prolonged immobilisation, surgery, neoplasms, chloasma, hypertension, migraine, depression, valvular heart disease, atrial fibrillation. Others: refer to full product information.
Interactions: HIV protease inhibitors, non- nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, anticonvulsants, antibiotics, antifungals and St. John's Wort. Others: refer to full product information.
The survey was commissioned by Bayer Australia Limited and undertaken by Galaxy Research in June 2012. The study was conducted online among a representative sample of 1,005 Australian women aged 18-39 years who still have their periods.
Dr Rod Baber, Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (NSW)
Question: What are the advantages of YAZ Flex?
Dr Rod Baber: The biggest advantage of YAZ Flex is that it allows women to have flexibility in when they want to have their period. There is already a contraceptive pill on the market called YAZ which is a monthly cycle with 24 active pills and 4 sugar pills and that's the case for most pills on the market today, they are all based on a monthly cycle. YAZ Flex comes without any sugar pills and it is used in conjunction with a device that tells women when it is safe for them to have a period and by doing that it allows them to have a period every 24 days if they want to but they can go as many as 120 days without having a period, if they want to.
Question: Is it safe on a women's body to not have a period for extended periods of time?
Dr Rod Baber: Yes there is quite a lot of good scientific data to show that it is completely safe to go 120 days without a period. It's not only safe but a very useful thing to do if women suffer from painful periods or heavy periods that may cause them to have anaemia because it reduces the amount of blood loss that they have every year.
Not only is YAZ Flex convenient because you can time when you want to have your period it also is quiet a useful way of making sure that you don't have all the side effects of heavy and/or painful periods.
Question: Are there any negatives of the option to delay a period for up to 120 days?
Dr Rod Baber: The only negative is if you go for a really long time, without a period, you sometimes get breakthrough bleeding and what you're advised to do is, if you've gone for some time without a period and you have three days of spotting or bleeding is that you have your period, at that stage. There have been good scientific studies done which look at the amount of blood loss and breakthrough bleeding and it's actually less with YAZ Flex than it is with the normal 28 day menstrual cycle pill.
Question: Will YAZ Flex be prescribed to any females currently using another contraceptive pill?
Dr Rod Baber: Yes although any girl using a contraceptive pill should talk to her own doctor about what is best for her, which is very important. Most women who are taking the oral contraceptive pill could talk to their doctor about changing to YAZ Flex.
Question: Does YAZ Flex have any side effects?
Dr Rod Baber: The side effects of YAZ Flex are similar to that of other oral contraceptive pills. YAZ Flex is one of the new generation contraceptive pills and it's good for acne as well as cycle control. The progestogen in the pill is one of those that doesn't cause weight gain or fluid retention which is why it's a good pill. YAZ itself is one of the most commonly prescribed pills today and YAZ Flex will complement that by offering women more flexibility with their cycle.
YAZ Flex is used with a dispenser which is equipped with a timer to remind women when to take their pill each day and there is a counter which counts the number of hours left until you take your pill which also reminds you to take your pill, if you forget. There is also a counter which tells you which day of your cycle you are and how many more pills you have left in the dispenser and when it's safe for you to have your period or not.
The dispenser will come free with the new prescription for YAZ Flex, from her doctor or women can go to Myperiods.com.au and get it sent from the website.
Question: Will this be the beginning of a new type of contraceptive pill?
Dr Rod Baber: I do, I think this is a trend for the better and I know it's something women have been doing for years; YAZ Flex formalises it and makes it more reliable.
If you use the pill perfectly (take it at the same time, everyday) we estimate that about 0.3 women will get pregnant for every 100 users, but if you look what actually happens it's about 9 women per every 100 users so obviously girls are forgetting to take the pill and we hope this is going to be something that helps them to remember and therefore is a more effective contraception as well as helpful and useful.