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Double Dosing Levonorgestrel-Based Emergency Contraception for Individuals With Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether dose escalation (ie, doubling the dose) of emergency contraception that contains levonorgestrel (LNG) improves pharmacodynamic outcomes in individuals with obesity.

METHODS: We enrolled healthy, reproductive-age individuals with regular menstrual cycles, body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, and weight at least 176 lbs in a randomized pharmacodynamic study. After confirming ovulation (luteal progesterone level greater than 3 ng/mL), we monitored participants with transvaginal ultrasonography and blood sampling for progesterone, luteinizing hormone, and estradiol every other day until a dominant follicle measuring 15 mm or greater was visualized. At that point, participants received either oral emergency contraception with LNG 1.5 mg or 3 mg (double dose) and returned for daily monitoring for up to 7 days. Our primary outcome was the difference in the proportion of participants with no follicle rupture 5 days postdosing (yes or no) between groups. The study had 80% power to detect a 30% difference in the proportion of cycles with at least a 5-day delay in follicle rupture (50% decrease).

RESULTS: A total of 70 enrolled and completed study procedures. The two groups had similar baseline demographics (mean age 28 years, BMI 38). We found no difference between groups in the proportion of participants without follicle rupture more than 5 days post-LNG dosing (LNG 1.5 mg: 18/35 [51.4%]; LNG 3.0 mg: 24/35 [68.6%], P=.14). Among participants with follicle rupture before 5 days, the time to rupture did not differ between groups (day at 75% probability of no rupture is day 2 for both groups).

CONCLUSION: Individuals with higher BMIs and weights experience a higher risk of failure of emergency contraception with LNG and exhibit an altered pharmacokinetic profile. However, the simple strategy of doubling the dose does not appear to be an effective intervention to improve outcomes.


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