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New birth control approved for use in Canada offers women an alternative form of pill

Last Updated Sep 20, 2021 at 10:11 am MDT

(CREDIT: iStock user Rattankun Thongbun)

CALGARY – A new drug is unlocking a new era in women’s health and contraception according to one doctor.

Nextstellis is a new birth control pill on the market for Canadian women.

What makes it different than others is that it uses a plant-based estrogen that naturally occurs in the body.

Most birth control pills contain ethinylestradiol, a synthetic Estrogen, whereas Nextstellis uses estetrol (E4).

Dr. Brian Hauck, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Foothills Medical Centre says it does not affect the liver in the same way as traditional pills.

“So, estrogen in all of the previous oral contraceptives does increase the risk of developing blood clots two- to threefold. Now the risk is still very small but it is definitely significant and something that we have to be aware of. So this Estrogen, because it does not have the same effect in the liver, the best data indicates it does not carry the same increased risk of blood clots.”


Hauck says that’s not the only benefit to the new drug either.

“[It’s] also very favourable in terms of side effects. And then the other thing that also almost certainly is a significant benefit is that it does not stimulate the hormone receptors in the breast the way the previous Estrogen does. This Estrogen actually blocks some of the hormone receptors in the breast which also is an advantage.”

Hauck says the research into E4 has been ongoing for a number of years.

“And finally now it’s met regulatory approval. Canada is actually one of the earlier ones to get regulatory approval and have it available so we, if anything, we’re a step ahead of some other countries.”

The drug was approved by Health Canada in March.