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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Oct;205(4 Suppl):S4-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2011.06.056.

The state of hormonal contraception today: established and emerging noncontraceptive health benefits.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA.


In the 50 years since the advent of combined oral contraceptives the amount of estrogen in oral contraceptives dropped from over 100 mcg to less than 30 mcg. Many noncontraceptive health benefits have emerged that decrease mortality and improve quality of life. Some of the immediate benefits include improvement of menorrhagia and dysmenorrhea, reduction in premenstrual dysphoric disorder symptoms, and decreased acne. As an effective birth control method oral contraceptives also decrease pregnancy-related deaths by preventing pregnancy. After the reproductive years, previous use of oral contraceptives continues to be beneficial, reducing the risk of death from ovarian and endometrial cancer. All these benefits have held up over time whereas cardiovascular risks have lessened because of the decrease in oral contraceptive pill dosage. Decreased ovarian cyst formation is an example of benefit with higher-dose oral contraceptive formulations that no longer holds true with low-dose pills.

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