The “Morning-After Pill”

Abstract from “Quiz the Expert” dealing with current advances or concerns in the field of fertility and sterility, 1977

The use of drugs for postcoital or “morning-after” contraception has been plagued with many controversies.

The most frequently used agent (and the only drug presently approved by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] ) is diethylstilbestrol (DES).

The usual dosage is 25 mg twice a day for 5 days. If given soon after intercourse, the medication is found to be almost universally effective in the prevention of pregnancy.

However, at the same time DES was being approved as a contraceptive, its teratogenic effect on the unborn fetus was beginning to be realized. The association between DES exposure and the late development of clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina and cervix is now well known. Although DES is still approved as a postcoital contraceptive, the FDA does require that the recipient be warned of the possible effects on the fetus should pregnancy occur.



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