Across the world, 26 September is World Contraception Day. According to key opinion leaders (KOLs) interviewed by GlobalData, one of the important unmet needs in the female contraception space is patient education on the different contraceptive methods available. Contraception Day helps raise awareness of contraceptive methods available and enables young people to make informed choices on their sexual health.

Female hormonal contraceptives are used in women of reproductive age, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) refers to all women aged 15–49 years. There are different types of hormonal contraceptives, which can be distinguished by their targets and mode of administration. The most commonly marketed female hormonal contraceptives target the progesterone receptor (progestin-only contraception) or the progesterone and the estrogen receptors (combination birth control). Hormonal contraception is available as oral contraceptive (OCs) and in newer long-acting formulations, including hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) or intrauterine systems (IUS), transdermal patches, vaginal rings, subcutaneous implants, and intramuscular injections. As such, hormonal contraceptives can be grouped into progestin-only or combined oral contraceptives (COCs), combination hormonal patches, combination hormonal vaginal rings, injectable progestins, implantable progestins, and progestin IUDs. Hormonal contraception provides effective, tolerable, and reversible prevention of pregnancy. The mechanism of action (MOA) of hormonal contraceptives is primarily through suppression of ovulation, but there are other associated MOAs, such as inhibition of fertilisation and inhibition of implantation of an egg.

The contraceptive market has been dominated by IUDs and OCs for the past decade. According to KOLs, IUDs are preferred to OCs because they are associated with higher compliance rates. With OCs, patients may forget to take them every day, and as a result, may get pregnant. Thus, physicians prefer methods that are more efficacious and less burdensome for patients. Each method of contraception has its own advantages and disadvantages; therefore, family planning is individualised and may change during a woman’s reproductive life.