Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Winter;11(1):41-7. doi: 10.5812/ijem.4158. Epub 2012 Dec 21

Non-contraceptive benefits of oral hormonal contraceptives

Schindler AE
Institute for Medical Research and Education, Essen, Germany

ABSTRACT: It is becoming evident that oral hormonal contraceptives-besides being well established contraceptives-seem to become important medications for many functional or organic disturbances. So far, clinical effectiveness has been shown for treatment as well as prevention of menstrual bleeding disorders and menstrual-related pain symptoms. Also this is true for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual disphoric disorder (PMDD). Particular oral contraceptives (OCs) containing anti-androgenic progestogens were shown to be effective medications for treatment of androgenisation symptoms (seborrhea, acne, hirsutism, alopecia). Through perfect suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis OCs have proven to be effective in elimination of persistent follicular cysts. Endometriosis/adenomyosis related pain symptoms are well handled similar to other drugs like Gonadotropine Releasing Hormone agonists but are less expensive, with less side effects, and possibility to be used for longer periods of time. This is also true for myoma. Pelvic inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual migraine, and onset of multiple sclerosis are prevented or delayed. Bone density is preserved and asthma symptoms improved. Endometrial hyperplasia and benign breast disease can be controlled. There is definitely a significant impact on risk reduction regarding endometrial, ovarian, and colon cancers. In conclusion, it needs to be recognized that oral combined hormonal contraceptives (estrogen/ progestogen combination) are - besides being reliable forms of contraception - are cost-effective medications for many medical disorders in women. Therefore, these contraceptives drugs are important for female and global health and should be used in clinical practice.