Hum Reprod Update. 2015 Jun 1. pii: dmv023.

Non-contraceptive benefits of hormonal and intrauterine reversible contraceptive methods

Bahamondes L, Bahamondes MV and Shulman LP

Abstract

Background: Most contraceptive methods present benefits beyond contraception; however, despite a large body of evidence, many healthcare professionals (HCPs), users and potential users are unaware of those benefits. This review evaluates the evidence for non-contraceptive benefits of hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptive methods.

Methods: We searched the medical publications in PubMed, POPLINE, CENTRAL, EMBASE and LILACS for relevant articles, on non-contraceptive benefits of the use of hormonal and intrauterine reversible contraceptive methods, which were published in English between 1980 and July 2014. Articles were identified using the following search terms: 'contraceptive methods', 'benefits', 'cancer', 'anaemia', 'heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB)', 'endometrial hyperplasia', 'endometriosis' and 'leiomyoma'.

Results: We identified, through the literature search, evidence that some combined oral contraceptives have benefits in controlling HMB and anaemia, reducing the rate of endometrial, ovarian and colorectal cancer and ectopic pregnancy as well as alleviating symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Furthermore, the use of the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system also controls HMB and anaemia and endometrial hyperplasia and cancer, reduces rates of endometrial polyps in users of tamoxifen and alleviates pain associated with endometriosis and adenomyosis. Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate controls crises of pain associated with sickle cell disease and endometriosis. Users of the etonogestrel-releasing contraceptive implant have the benefits of a reduction of pain associated with endometriosis, and users of the copper intrauterine device have reduced rates of endometrial and cervical cancer.

Conclusions: Despite the high contraceptive effectiveness of many hormonal and intrauterine reversible contraceptive methods, many HCPs, users and potential users are concerned mainly about side effects and safety of both hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptive methods, and there is scarce information about the many benefits that these methods offer beyond contraception.

Comment: There is no medical product without side-effects, however, many reversible contraceptives have positive side-effects. The above mentioned review is worth searching for in libraries, etc. to give prospective users the opportunity of an informed choice. (HMV)