Journal Article

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

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.