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  1. 1

    [Oral contraception in France in 2001: results of an opinion poll survey conducted on 3609 women between 15 and 45] La contraception orale en France en 2001: resultats d’une enquete par sondage portant sur 3609 femmes agees de 15 a 45 ans.

    Laveissiere MN; Pelissier C; Le MG

    Gynecologie, Obstetrique and Fertilite. 2003 Mar; 31(3):220-229.

    The aim of this study concerning the taking of the pill in France in 2001 was threefold, i.e. to assess its rate as well as its characteristics of use, and to appraise the most frequent side effects as reported by women. Three thousand six hundred and nine women representative of the French female population between 15 and 45 years of age were recruited thanks to a survey, which took place in 2001. The data were collected from self-questionnaires. Women on the whole have quite a good opinion of oral contraception and most of them are convinced of its efficiency. As far as pill tolerance is concerned, opinions do vary, more than half of the women judging that being on the pill is not without side-effects. Though, the rate of use of oral contraceptives has increased by 12% since 1994. Most women (48%) use first and second generation pills and this in all age brackets. Thirty per cent of women aged 30 to 45 keep loyal to the same patent medicine, which they keep using for more than 10 years. Among the side-effects that can be found, two of them - putting on weight (31%) and hydrosodium retention (26%) - are the most frequently quoted, in all age brackets. This accounts for the relatively low ratio of women who find their pill quite satisfactory (58% of the cases). Despite the diversity of all the different patented pills that are available, efforts are still to be made in order to reduce what side-effects are encountered when using them. (author's)
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  2. 2

    35 years with oral contraception: the Ghost of Pill Scare still rides] [editorial]

    Skouby SO

    European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. 1996 Dec; 1(4):299-300.

    Third-generation progestogens desogestrel, gestodene, and norgestimate were introduced in the late 1970s in a bid to reduce and refine the hormonal content of combined oral contraceptives. Pharmaceutical companies invested considerable resources into developing the products and research activities have been based, at least partly, upon advice from the medical profession regarding the relevant safety studies on risk of cardiovascular disease. However, in October 1995, and despite such efforts, the UK's Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) warned physicians and pharmacists about third generation oral contraceptives because the investigators involved in a World Health Organization cohort study had found an increased risk of deep venous thrombosis among users of such contraceptives containing desogestrel or gestodene compared with the second generation type of oral contraceptives. That finding was supported by unpublished data from the Transnational Study and the General Practice Research Data Base Study. However, even considering all of these data together, no definitive evidence has been presented of an increased risk of deep venous thrombosis in users of third generation oral contraceptives. Epidemiological flaws and biases could have been mainly responsible for the increases found in the incidence rates of deep venous thrombosis. Careful consideration should be given to the absolute risks of disease and the risk of unwanted pregnancies before a clinical alert is issued on oral contraceptive use.
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  3. 3

    The Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey on Public Perceptions about Contraception. Chart pack.

    Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

    Menlo Park, California, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 1996 Jan 31. [10] p.

    This series of tables illustrates findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation's 1996 National (US) Survey on Public Perceptions about Contraception. Pie charts show that 43% of women aged 18-44 (women of reproductive age [WRA]) and 39% of all Americans believe that oral contraceptives (OCs) are somewhat safe and an additional 25 and 17%, respectively, believe OCs are very safe. The charts indicate that 61% of WRA and 44% of all Americans cite potential health risks as their primary safety concerns (20 and 24%, respectively, cite lack of protection against disease, and 20 and 7%, respectively, doubt the contraceptive efficacy of OCs). Most WRA (58%) believe that OCs have no effect on the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, but only 41% believe that chances of acquiring breast cancer are unaffected by OC use (32% believe chances are heightened). Most WRA (57%) believe that OCs increase chances of blood clots, and only 16% believe that OC use reduces chances of developing ovarian cancer. Nearly half (47%) of the WRA believe that women's chances of getting heart disease are not affected by OC use. WRA receive most of their contraceptive information from physicians (88%), nurses (75%), family/friends (60%), television (48%), magazines (43%), advertisements (41%), and printed media (40%). Among WRA who have ever used OCs, 53% reported that their partner had no influence in their decision to use this method (19% reported that their partner had a lot of influence). Most men (76%) whose current or most recent partner used OCs reported that their partner had a lot of influence in this decision.
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  4. 4

    Oral contraceptives: exploring the benefits, dispelling the myths.

    Pereira A; Jones KP

    HEALTH AND SEXUALITY. 1996 Fall; 5(1):1, 3-5, 16.

    Oral contraceptives (OC) were first introduced in the US in the early 1960s as an efficient, convenient, and reversible method of contraception. The pill has since undergone many changes. Most OCs prescribed today contain 35 mcg of estrogen and 0.5-1 mg of progestin, approximately one-third the estrogen and one-tenth the progestin in the original OCs. Considerable scientific research, economic analysis, and social marketing have yielded invaluable data on how OCs, the most popular form of birth control in the US, have affected the lives of women, men, and society overall. Researchers have also investigated the health risks and benefits of OC use. Both truths and myths exist about the effects of OC use. A 1993 Gallup poll conducted for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that 65% of patients believe oral pill use to be at least as dangerous as pregnancy. 58%, however, were unable to name one non-contraceptive benefit of the pill. A 1995 Harris poll conducted for the American Medical Association found that although 96% of reproductive-age women considered themselves to be knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about contraception, 56% incorrectly believed a woman periodically needs to give her body a rest from OC use. The authors discuss the benefits and risks of using OC.
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  5. 5

    The "media", the public, and the pill.

    Smith T

    In: Hormones and sexual factors in human cancer aetiology, edited by J.P. Wolff, J.S. Scott. Amsterdam, Netherlands, Elsevier Science Publishers, 1984. 183-90. (International Congress Series 650; ECP Symposium 1)

    In light of news reports linking the pill to cancer, the author discusses the role of the media in reporting possible dangers associated with oral contraceptive (OC) use. On October 22, the Lancet published 2 studies linking breast cancer and cancer of the cervix with OC use. The newspaper also printed an editorial which said that the drive to end unwanted pregnancies often ignores safety concerns over the pill. Despite these reports, the public reacted calmly, and women did not rush to the doctor to seek a new contraceptive method. But in other occasions, notably in 1969, reports of possible harmful side effects of pill did stir anxiety among millions of women. The information, which had been leaked to the press, had not yet reached physicians, and they found themselves besieged by oral contraceptives users. Although noting that not all stories concerning OCs are sensationalist or irresponsible, the author explains such a story is highly prized by news editors for several reasons: it deals with sex; it reveals a hidden danger in something otherwise thought to be safe; and it attributes guilt to someone (in this case, the pharmaceutical industry). Furthermore, as part of their guiding philosophy, journalists seek to bring an issue to the attention of the public, which is supposed to serve as a jury in rendering an opinion. In doing so, the media treats complex scientific issues too simplistically. Yet despite the evidence attesting to the pill's side effects, its use has continued, which suggests that the public has already assessed its risks objectively.
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  6. 6
    Peer Reviewed

    Uneasy freedom: women's experiences of contraception.

    Benn M; Richardson R

    Women's Studies International Forum. 1984; 7(4):219-225.

    Contraception is not the trouble-free panacea it is often assumed to be, according to authors of this article. Quoting extensively from letters recieved from women answering a press appeal for information, the authors describe the mental and physical side effects of contraception. 2 of the single most important causes of anger against medical personnel is due to the dismissal of women's testimony concerning these side effects. Use of oral contraceptives was associated by many of the respondants with weight gain, loss of libido, thrush, and unpredictability of mood, particularly depression. IUD insertion was associated with severe pain and heavier blood loss at menstruation. Some women suffered recurrent infections after IUD insertion. In some cases, women doctors were found to be as unsympathetic as were men. The unwillingness of many men to share responsibility for contraception was also a cause of great concern. The authors conclude that while freedom from the constant threat of unwanted pregnancy has been a positive outcome, the degree of personal oppression experienced by women using available contraceptive methods has been ignored or minimized. Feminist writers have described the political nature of issues of contraception. The adverse experiences of women using contraception have, in some instances, resulted in an added awareness of their subordinate position in society, and the inadequate respect accorded them by the medical profession. Consequently, some model patients have become feminists and advocates for patients' rights.
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  7. 7

    The pill and the rising costs of fertility control.


    Social Biology. 1977 Winter; 24(4):267-280.

    Until recently it appeared as if oral contraception greatly reduced the costs of fertility control. The advantages of effectiveness and the convenience of this method in preference to coitus-related contraception led to the dramatic increase in oral contraceptive (OC) use during the 1960s in the U.S. The trend in the 1970s is different. OC use has leveled off, and suspicions have arisen that the net costs to women of using this form of birth control are higher than was previously believed. Discontinuation rates by women who have been on OCs have increased despite major improvement in the chemistry of the OC in recent years. In view of the evidence concerning the apparent risks to health associated with OCs, the current trend is not surprising. The range of major diseases for which the relative risk is higher among OC users seems to be broadening, and, as a consequence, the cumulative absolute risk overall of these diseases may be very much higher than was believed when only selected thromboembolic entities seemed to be involved. In order to obtain the public's view about the safety of OCs, 1500 voting age adults have been questioned in national surveys since 1966. 34% of the respondents in 1976 said that they believed the OC to be safe, but 47% of this group meant that it is as safe as aspirin. 34% ranked it as being somewhat less safe than aspirin. Their answers indicate that over time there had been increasing anxiety about the safety of the OC, but no general sense of panic. Even among those who felt it is unsafe, only a minority are willing to label it as "really dangerous."
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  8. 8

    The pill on trial.

    Kistner RW

    American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. April 15, 1971; 109(8):1118-1127.

    The 1970 Nelson Committee hearings were held to determine whether Pill users were properly told about the side effects and suspected complications. The author charges the Committee hearings of sensationalizing adverse results of the Pill, causing 18% of all U.S. users to stop this treatment and another 23% to seriously consider quitting. A survey following the Nelson hearings showed 97% of the 13,000 U.S. obstetricians and gynecologists questioned believed oral contraceptives to be medically acceptable. The Scowen report of England (1970) said the Pill is the best contraceptive available, and the low-estrogen pill (50 mcg) is the safest. Because of the relationship of the pill to thromboembolism brought out by Nelson hearings oral contraceptives now must carry a health warning, and the result of the Scowen Committee will most likely encourage doctors to prescribe low dosage estrogen pills.
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