NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Area Drug and Therapeutics Committee
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medicines
Medicines Update

Continuous Combined Hormonal Contraception

Key messages

  • In January 2019, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) published updated clinical guidance on combined hormonal contraception (CHC).  The guidance contains information on continuous CHC and reports that there is no health benefit from a seven-day hormone-free interval.
  • The current GGC guideline on contraceptive prescribing in primary care (due for review next year) does not include information on continuous CHC regimens.
  • Continuous CHC is unlicensed and incurs additional prescribing costs, however, clinicians may wish to consider a tailored regimen for individual patients.
  • Information for patients on continuous CHC is included in a leaflet from the Family Planning Association (FPA) about combined contraception.
  • Clinicians wishing further advice can call Sandyford’s professional helpline 0141 211 8646.

Following publication of the FSRH updated guidance on CHC, factually inaccurate press reports were published. The FSRH responded to these reports and clarified that although the guidelines are accredited by NICE, they are not NHS guidance and are not statutory. Although the updated FSRH guideline highlights that there is no health benefit from a seven-day hormone-free interval, there are health risks associated with the use of CHC. Women should be aware that there is a range of other contraceptive options available to them free of charge on the NHS that are not associated with these health risks; some of these contraceptive options are significantly more effective for contraception than CHC.

The FSRH recommends that advice on extended CHC regimens is supported by written or digital information. The FPA website contains patient information on the combined pill, patch and vaginal ring which includes advice on extended regimens. The combined pill information can be viewed here.


Published 14/05/19. Medicines Update blogs are correct at the time of publication.