Journal Article

A randomized study on pharmacodynamic effects of vaginal rings delivering the progesterone receptor modulator ulipristal acetate: Research for a novel estrogen-free, method of contraception

Objective
To determine whether a 3-month contraceptive vaginal ring (CVR) delivering ulipristal acetate (UPA) can inhibit ovulation in 90% of cycles.

Study Design
This was a randomized dose-finding parallel group clinical trial. Fifty-five healthy women with normal ovulation at baseline were randomized to receive a low-dose (1500 μg/day) or a high-dose (2500 μg/day) UPA-CVR for two consecutive 12-week treatment periods, followed by a recovery cycle. A subgroup of women received levonorgestrel (LNG) 1.5 mg orally twice (at the end of both 12-week ring periods) or once (at the end of the 24-week treatment). The primary outcome was ovulation suppression assessed by transvaginal ultrasound and hormone levels. Secondary outcomes included endometrial safety and bleeding patterns.

Results
All subjects showed normal ovulation at baseline and recovery. Ovulation suppression was seen in 81.8% (95% CI: 73.3%, 88.5%) and 86.1% (95% CI: 78.1%, 92%) of treatment cycles with low and high-dose, respectively. Benign progesterone receptor modulator associated endometrial changes (PAEC) were seen during treatment; 78.8% at week 24, but resolved at recovery cycle. A few cases of heavy bleeding occurred near the end of the 24-week treatment, but a single dose of LNG every 12 weeks reduced the increase in endometrial thickness during the second treatment period and prevented excessive bleeding.

Conclusion
The 3-month UPA-CVR may become an effective long-acting, user-controlled estrogen-free contraceptive. The greatest suppression of ovulation was seen with the 2500-μg/day ring.

Implications
The 3-month CVR delivering UPA 2500 μg/day can become an effective user-controlled estrogen-free contraceptive method. Benign PAEC during treatment returns to normal after discontinuation. The prevention of occasional excessive withdrawal bleeding, either by a progestin or by using higher UPA levels to increase follicle suppression may permit prolonged treatment.