The new-generation 'pill'
May 18, 1999
Web posted at: 2:53 p.m. EDT (1853 GMT)
Low-dose birth control pills appear to be as effective and more comfortable than the standard version
From Medical Correspondent Rhonda Rowland
(CNN) -- The birth control pill is almost 40 years old. It consists of two
hormones: estrogen and a progestin. Since it went on the
market, the dose has gradually decreased.
Now lower-dose birth control pills are available. The
question is, are they as effective as the standard regimen? And are there
fewer side effects with the lower-dose pills?
According to the first study designed to look at these questions, the
answer to both is yes.
Researchers compared the most popular pill on the market, Ortho Tri-Cyclen,
with two low-dose pills, Mircette and Aless. Standard pills have 35 micrograms
of estrogen, and low-dose pills have 20 micrograms.
"We found contraceptive effectiveness was just as good in the low-dose pills
as the high-dose pills, and cycle control was just as good," said Dr. Michael
Rosenberg of Health Decisions, a private research group based in Chapel Hill,
The study also found the side effects associated with estrogen, such as
nausea, bloating and breast tenderness, were less with the low-dose pills.
"Up until now, people have thought about lower-dose oral contraceptives for
only certain groups of women," said Rosenberg, "adolescents who are just
starting to take the pill, peri-menopausal use and in women who have had
problems with other pills."
The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists, followed 473 women for six months.
"We want to give the lowest dose to get the job done," said Rosenberg.
"I think it's part of the continued evolution of the pill."
The study also looked at women's general feeling of well-being.
"Some women stop taking the pill because they just don't like how they feel
on the pill," said Dr. Sarah Berga, University of Pittsburgh School of
Medicine. "Their complaints are non-specific, but it's enough for them to
discontinue use of the pill."
The study found overall women felt best when taking Mircette.
"Mircette contains a new type of progestin called desogesterol," said
Most oral contraceptives are formulated with the progestin
The study was funded by Organon, makers of Mircette.
Women's sex hormones - A refresher course
April 19, 1999
Study: Health risks from 'the pill' may wear off
January 7, 1999
Book review - Oral contraceptives didn't cause the sexual revolution?
November 5, 1998
The Pill revisited - Benefits beyond birth control
August 13, 1998
Study: Pill reduces risk of ovarian cancer in women with defective genes
August 12, 1998
Alan Guttmacher Institute
The Billings Ovulation Method of Natural Family Planning
Planned Parenthood - Birth Control
Oral Contraceptives FAQ
USHS Pharmacy Services - VT SHC Recommmendations on The Pill
Food and Drug Administration - Protecting Against Unintended Pregnancy: A Guide to Contraceptive Choices - June 1997
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