A new medical study from Hong Kong found that women who used a prescription painkiller coupled with the morning-after pill had better success avoiding pregnancy than those who merely took emergency contraception.


The study, which was released on Wednesday in The Lancet, employed a randomized, controlled study of 860 women who wanted immediate contraception at a reproductive care center in Hong Kong between 2018 and 2022. Levonorgestrel, one of the most commonly used morning-after medications worldwide, was proven in a 1998 study to be 95% effective at preventing pregnancy when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.


However, according to the study’s authors, combining it with the prescription drug piroxicam, which is frequently used to treat arthritic pain and inflammation, substantially enhanced the emergency contraceptive’s effectiveness. Only one of the 418 women who took levonorgestrel with piroxicam became pregnant, yielding a 99.8% total efficacy rate.


Seven pregnancies were observed in a second group of equal size that received levonorgestrel and a placebo, yielding a 98.3% efficacy rate. According to the scientists, there was no discernible difference between the two test groups’ incidence of adverse effects such as irregular periods.


As per the research’s first author, Raymond Li of the University of Hong Kong, it is the first to demonstrate that a readily accessible and secure medicine used along with levonorgestrel can increase its efficacy. Li emphasized that further research was necessary before the results could be used to affect policy.


The Stanford University School of Medicine’s Erica Cahill warned that the result may not be applicable to every patient, in a separate commentary published in The Lancet. According to Cahill, who was not engaged in the study, majority of the subjects were Asian and under 70 kilos in weight.


August 17, 2023

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