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Semin Reprod Med. 2001 Dec;19(4):313-21.

Successful use of oral contraceptives.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA.


Typical failure rates for oral contraceptives remain much higher than ideal failure rates. Patients can cite the pill's perceived risks more readily than its benefits, and many women use oral contraceptives inconsistently or discontinue them entirely without a medical reason. Successful use of oral contraceptives mandates that we rethink our roles as providers. Medical barriers, such as mandatory pelvic examinations, impede clients' access to services and require reevaluation. Efforts must also focus on thorough, individualized counseling. Because compliance poses difficulties for many women and noncompliance results in reduced efficacy, counseling must address content points relevant to proper, consistent use. Additionally, as unexpected side effects often cause frustration and method discontinuation, counseling should anticipate their occurrence. Adolescents present additional challenges. However, with careful attention to concerns relevant to teenage women and consideration of obstacles to compliance, oral contraceptives can indeed be used successfully in this group. Regardless of age, all clients should receive information regarding emergency contraception, and instructions for pill use should be individualized to meet the needs of each patient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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