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Women in UK ‘seldom’ told drug used in surgery can impede contraception

Women undergoing NHS operations are not being routinely informed that a drug commonly used in anaesthesia may make their contraception less effective, putting them at risk of an unplanned pregnancy, doctors have warned.

Administered at the end of surgery before patients wake up, sugammadex reverses the action of drugs that are given earlier in the procedure to relax the patient’s muscles. The drug is known to interact with the hormone progesterone and may reduce the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives, including the progesterone-only pill, combined pill, vaginal rings, implants and intra-uterine devices.

However, new research suggests that robust methods for identifying at-risk patients and informing them of the associated risk of contraceptive failures is not common practice across anaesthetic departments in the UK.

Current guidance says doctors must inform women of child-bearing age about the drug. Women taking oral hormonal contraceptives should be advised to follow the missed pill advice in the leaflet that comes with their contraceptives, and those using other types of hormonal contraceptive should be advised to use an additional non-hormonal means of contraception for seven days.

But doctors at a major London hospital trust found no record within the medical notes of relevant patients that they had been given advice on the risks of contraceptive failure due to sugammadex.

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Source: The Guardian, 2 June 2022


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