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New Edition of Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the much-anticipated fifth edition of its comprehensive Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (MEC), including several user-friendly features and additional supplemental information. Periodically updated since its original publication in 1996, the WHO MEC provides current, evidence-based guidance on the safe use of contraceptive methods for individuals with various health conditions.

The full 267-page MEC document, an executive summary of the changes, and an updated version of the accompanying MEC Wheel (a job aid to help providers determine if a woman with a health condition can begin using her chosen method) are available on the WHO website.

The fifth edition of the WHO MEC includes new recommendations for emergency contraception, women in the immediate postpartum period, and women at high risk of acquiring HIV, living with HIV, or taking antiretroviral therapy. It also offers recommendations for the use of several new contraceptive methods: ulipristal acetate (UPA) for emergency contraception, subcutaneously-administered depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), Sino-implant (II), and progesterone-releasing vaginal rings.

Through its pioneering work in the early 2000s, FHI 360 developed and validated checklists to help health care providers screen clients for eligibility to use specific contraceptive methods based on the WHO MEC. These checklists, available on FHI 360’s website, have been revised (in English and French) to reflect the newest changes in the WHO guidance.

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