Published: March 2002

Ministry of Health (Medsafe) advice on the use of combined oral contraceptives

Information on this subject has been updated. Read the most recent information.

March 2002 update

This advice applies to:
  • second generation OCs containing levonorgestrel or norethisterone
  • third generation OCs containing desogestrel or gestodene
  • OCs containing cyproterone (for contraception in women with androgen-dependent diseases).

Prescribers are advised to consider the following recommendations when prescribing combined oral contraceptives (OCs).

The view of the Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee (MARC) and the Ministry of Health is that:

When initiating contraceptive therapy the prescriber should:

When reviewing combined OC therapy the prescriber should:

For women taking OCs containing desogestrel, gestodene or cyproterone:

Risk factors for VTE

Historical family history of VTE
personal history of VTE*
Genetic hereditary thrombophilia*
Acquired predisposition extensive varicose veins
obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m² or greater)
blood disorders increasing clotting tendency
Mechanical immobility#
long distance travel#
Physiological dehydration#
increasing age
puerperium# (contraindicated up to 3 weeks postpartum)

* Contraindications for combined OCs
# Usually temporary risk factors