This site is intended for health professionals only

First estradiol-based oral contraceptive for the UK

UK healthcare professionals can now prescribe the first combined oral contraceptive that delivers estradiol, the same oestrogen as is produced naturally by the female body.   

The new contraceptive pill, Qlaira, is both effective and generally well tolerated and offers women a new choice of combined oral contraception.

Since the launch of the pill nearly 50 years ago, the oestrogen component of oral contraception has traditionally been ethinylestradiol (EE). Previous attempts to replace EE have failed to achieve a satisfactory level of bleeding control.

Qlaira combines estradiol valerate with the progestogen dienogest in a new regimen which provides stable levels of estradiol throughout the cycle, ensuring good cycle control and effectively inhibiting ovulation.

Dr Martyn Walling, GP and Family Planning Instructing Doctor, Lincolnshire, remarked; "The challenge for healthcare professionals is to find a combined oral contraceptive that suits an individual woman’s needs. 

"It is not enough to just offer efficacy, reliability and cycle control, this is a given. What we need is to have options that give women more individual benefits. [This] announcement means we have a new and different option at our fingertips to allow us to tailor a woman’s contraception to her lifestyle.”

Dr Diana Mansour, Head of Contraception and Sexual Health Specialist in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne added, “Women are increasingly looking for more natural options for their health needs, and contraception is no different. 

"Qlaira may help them to address some of these concerns as it offers the confidence of reliable contraception and the reassurance of using a contraceptive delivering oestrogen, which is identical to that which occurs naturally in their body.”

Qlaira contains estradiol valerate (E2V), which is metabolised by the body to 17β-estradiol (E2), the same hormone as that naturally occurring in the body.

The dosing regimen involves an oestrogen step-down and a progestogen step-up sequence; one pill is taken daily for 28 days, with the first 26 pills delivering hormones and the last two, placebo.

Bayer Schering