Combined oral contraceptives: acceptability and effective use.Br Med Bull. 1993 Jan; 49(1):140-57.BM
With over 60 million users of 'the pill' worldwide, safety and efficacy remain the two most relevant issues to both the consumer and the research scientist. Safety of combined oral contraception (COC) has advanced appreciably. Lessons learned from cohort and case-control studies have been applied to the practical management of oral contraception use, based on screening, selection and regular monitoring of users. Most health risks of COCs appear to be dependent on the dose and potency (or biological impact) of the constituent steroids. While many of the non-contraceptive benefits of COCs are maintained when modern low dose preparations are used, most, if not all, of the adverse effects have been reduced progressively. Moreover the range of modern hormonal contraceptives has widened with the introduction of a new generation of 'selective' progestogens (Desogestrel, Norgestimate and Gestodene), which have minimal androgenicity. User failure of COCs is still high in many countries. The cause is a combination of poor compliance and anxiety about perceived adverse effects. Compliance can be enhanced by improving the quality of instruction in pill use. Fears of adverse effects of COCs may be allayed through education of users and providers, and sympathetic management of side effects.