Use of DES for postcoital contraception, 1979

Physician Advisory: Health Effects of the Pregnancy Use of Diethylstilbestrol


Although the doses and duration of DES use for postcoital contraception are less than the doses and duration which were commonly used when DES was prescribed for pregnancy complications, health risks may be similar.

It also is possible that women may take the drug as a postcoital contraceptive when already pregnant from previous intercourse. In such cases the potential offspring of such pregnancy would be exposed to the risks previously described.

Additionally, there is controversy over the efficacy of the drug for postcoital contraception and over the validity of studies showing it to be effective for that purpose. In light of these considerations, the following recommendations are made:

Postcoital contraception with estrogens in any woman should be restricted to situations where no alternative is judged acceptable by a fully informed patient and her physician.

Thorough birth control counseling should accompany or follow any prescription of estrogens for postcoital purposes. A principal objective of such counseling should be to discourage women to whom the drug is administered from considering it as a routine method of contraception upon which to rely in the future.



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