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Oral contraceptives: current status.

During the past four decades, oral contraceptives have remained a safe and effective method of birth control. Reductions in the estrogen and progestin dosages have significantly decreased the incidence of cardiovascular complications. The association between oral contraceptives and breast cancer appears to be primarily because of detection bias or possibly a promotional effect. Despite the changes in formulation, the problems related to side effects have not been totally solved. Because compliance and successful use is strongly affected by side effects, improvement in this area is probably the biggest challenge faced by developers of oral contraceptives. It is also clear that there are a growing number of significant noncontraceptive benefits that accrue in oral contraceptive users. Unfortunately, many women do not know about these benefits. Thus, one of the issues that providers need to continue to address is how to provide better information about oral contraceptives and contraception in general to patients.

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