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50 years of “The Pill”: celebrating a golden anniversary
  1. Anne Szarewski, PhD, FFSRH, Clinical Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer1,
  2. Diana Mansour, FRCOG, FFSRH, Clinical Director2 and
  3. Lee P Shulman, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology3
  1. Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Mathematics and Statistics, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, London, UK
  2. Sexual Health Services, New Croft Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA
  1. Correspondence to Anne Szarewski, Clinical Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Mathematics and Statistics, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK. E-mail: a.szarewski{at}qmul.ac.uk

Abstract

The past 50 years have seen great advances in combined oral contraceptives (COCs) that have resulted in reduced risks of adverse events and improved cycle control. The most important changes in COCs over time include repeated lowering of the estrogen dose, development of new progestogens, and the reduction or elimination of the pill-free interval. Most recently, formulations that deliver estradiol in lieu of ethinylestradiol have been introduced. The advantages of COCs generally far outweigh the disadvantages. Current options in oral contraception include a wide spectrum of products that enable clinicians to choose the most appropriate formulation for individual women. This article summarises the advances in oral contraceptives over time and describes the most current clinical data regarding the use of COCs.

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