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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1994 May;170(5 Pt 2):1569-75.

Noncontraceptive effects of hormonal contraceptives: bone mass, sexually transmitted disease and pelvic inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, menstrual function, and future fertility.

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Department of Gynecology-Obstetrics, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI 48202.


Noncontraceptive actions of oral contraceptives (OCs) include hormonal effects on bone mass, sexually transmitted disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, the cardiovascular system, menstrual function, and future fertility. Information about the effects of OCs on bone mass is limited and contradictory. Two recent studies failed to show a positive effect of OC use on bone mass or density compared with the three cross-sectional studies and one longitudinal study that showed favorable effects. A recently completed study of 156 healthy females indicated a significant correlation between OC use and the rate of change in total body bone-mineral content. One study involving depot medroxyprogesterone acetate suggests bone density decreases with long-term use of the drug. The use of OCs does not reduce the risk of gonococcal or chlamydial infection of the lower tract and in fact may enhance spread of lower tract infection. However, OCs may exert a protective effect against some types of pelvic inflammatory disease. Regarding transmission of human immunodeficiency virus, the results of recent studies are conflicting. Research related to newer OC formulations containing 35 micrograms or less of ethinyl estradiol suggests that the risk of a negative cardiovascular effect is substantially reduced. All forms of hormonal contraception alter menstrual function to some degree, but most patterns improve with duration of use. No evidence exists that hormonal contraception permanently affects fertility, although fertility restoration may be delayed with some agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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