Oral Contraceptives in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Risk-Benefit Assessment

Bulent O. Yildiz, M.D.


Semin Reprod Med. 2008;26(1):111-120. 

In This Article

Noncontraceptive Benefits and Side Effects of OCPs

Noncontraceptive benefits of OCPs include decreased dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, and anemia, improvements in acne and hirsutism, and decreased risk of osteoporosis and of ectopic pregnancy. Long-term OCP use is also associated with decreased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer.[32,33]

The most common side effects of OCPs that result in poor compliance or discontinuation include abnormal menstrual bleeding, nausea, breast tenderness, headache, and mood changes. Most of these side effects lessen significantly after the first few months of use.[6] Many women report that they experience some weight gain during OCP use. However, controlled clinical trials have failed to show any association between low-dose OCPs and weight gain. In fact, a recent Cochrane review of the available three placebo-controlled, randomized trials did not find any evidence supporting a causal association between OCPs and weight gain.[34]


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