Centchroman Birth Control Pills


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Centchroman (or 'Ormeloxifene') is a potent non-steroidal non-hormonal birth control method. Although it does not contain hormones, it acts on the hormones produced in the body, especially progesterone. It is a once-a-week oral contraceptive which has been proved to be not only highly effective but also safe.

Centchroman is a SERM - a Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator. It acts on estrogen receptors in the body to either stimulate or suppress the receptors.

What is interesting about Centchroman is that it suppresses the receptors in the reproductive organs like the ovaries, uterus and breasts. But it stimulates the estrogen receptors of other organs like the bones. So, while it acts as a birth control pill, it can prevent breast cancers, uterine cancers and stimulate the formation of new bones.

Developed by the Central Drug Research Institute of India in the late nineties, Centchroman has undergone extensive clinical trials. It has a failure rate of only 1.63% which compares favorably with other birth control pills which have a failure rate of 1 to 1.5%.

Centchroman is believed to be more effective than other birth control methods like condoms, the intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs), the rhythm method and the oral contraceptive pills .

How does Centchroman prevent pregnancy?

Centchroman acts at three points in the reproductive cycle:

  • It increases the movement of the fertilized ovum through the fallopian tubes so that it reaches the uterus too early when the endometrium is not ready for implantation at that time.

  • It increases the rate of maturation of the ovum so that it is hypermature when it reaches the endometrium and fails to implant in it.

  • It slows down the growth and development of the endometrium so that it is not adequately prepared to receive the fertilized ovum when it reaches the uterus.

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Dosage Schedule of Centchroman

Centchroman is available as 30mg tablets. A single tablet should be taken twice a week (on a sunday and a wednesday) for the first three months and then weekly (every sunday) thereafter. The first pill is taken on the first day of the period or the first sunday after the first day of the period. Additional contraceptives like condoms should be used for the first month.

Advantages of Centchroman

  • It is highly effective.

  • It is safe to use. Since Centchroman has no effect on either the ovaries or the uterus, it can be started without a pelvic examination.

    But a thorough pelvic examination is necessary before starting birth control pills containing estrogen and progesterone since these hormones can affect both these organs.

  • Being non-hormonal, it does not cause the nausea, dizziness, weight gain and other side effects associated with birth control pills.

  • It has no adverse effect on blood coagulation, liver function and lipid profile. So there are no chances of blood clots or increase in the cholesterol level due to centchroman.

  • It is not toxic. In women who became pregnant while on centchroman, no congenital anomalies were noted in the babies.

  • It is less expensive than the traditional estrogen-progesterone pills. While a single month's course of the estrogen-progesterone pills costs between $35-$45, Centchroman costs about $50 to $60 for a 12 months course.

  • Since it does not stop ovulation, return to fertility is faster once the pills are stopped.

  • Risks of infertility are minimal.

Disadvantages of Centchroman

  • Centchroman causes delayed periods in some women. But this occurs in less than 10% of users and usually in the first three months. The periods tend to settle down to a rhythm once the body gets used to the drug.

  • There may be heavier periods in the first three months with tender breasts, water retention and some amount of acne.

  • Periods can get scanty over time in some women.

But most users have agreed that this is a safe and effective alternative to the the estrogen-progesterone birth control pills.

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