Many women quit using OCs because of effects on mood, sexuality

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Last Updated: 2001-08-06 17:30:42 EDT (Reuters Health)

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) – Emotional and sexual side effects are the primary reasons that women discontinue or switch oral contraceptives, investigators at Indiana University in Bloomington report.

A trial reported in the July issue of Contraception included 76 women, 18 years of age or older, who were currently using monophasic or triphasic preparation of ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate. According to Dr. Stephanie A. Sanders and colleagues, only 38% of the study subjects were still using the same OC at the end of 1 year. Forty-seven percent had discontinued OCs and 14% had switched to another pill.

On regression analysis, four variables explained 87% of the variance in outcome: emotional side effects, change in the frequency of sexual thoughts, effect on premenstrual symptoms, and decreased psychosexual arousability.

Frequency of sexual intercourse and perceptions of the effects of OCs on menstrual blood loss were also significantly worse among women who discontinued or switched prescriptions compared with those who remained on the same pill for 12 months.

Dr. Sanders' team recommends that "women should be encouraged to discuss sexual and emotional effects of OCs with their healthcare provider in much the same way as they are encouraged to report physical effects such as bleeding, headaches, or breast tenderness."

-Westport Newsroom 203 319 2700

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