Benefits and risks of hormonal contraception — interpretation

  • M. Smith


The pill is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most efficient of medical advances. In 1976 in the UK 3.5 million women took the pill but following adverse publicity linked to often misinterpreted findings of the report from the RCGP this number decreased by 600 000. Caution should certainly be taken in those over 35 years who smoke but general acceptance of all possible side-effects without informed interpretation is not in the best interests of patients. Happily, recent advances in pill dosage and formulation together with follow-up studies from the RCGP, have suggested there is no new overall increased risk in the long term and that there may be benefits due to the pill decreasing the incidence of benign breast disease, cancer, cysts of the ovary and PID. From the low level of up-take of 2.8 million in 1979, by 1982 approximately 3.3 million in the UK are again taking the pill. The lost 500 000 have returned and it is likely that 3.35 million women will be taking it in 1983. This trend can, however, only continue where there is a forward looking family planning service particularly among the young and deprived. Patients must be actively sought out and walk-in service for all methods currently used must be provided. We must continue to restore confidence in the pill as we are unlikely to have anything better as a contraceptive agent if at all until the next century.


Family Planning Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Benign Breast Disease Family Planning Service Hormonal Contraception 
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© MTP Press Limited 1984

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  • M. Smith

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