American journal of obstetrics and gynecology

Combined oral contraception with desogestrel/ethinyl estradiol: tolerability profile.

PMID 8447356


Since their introduction nearly 30 years ago, oral contraceptives have been widely researched regarding their contraceptive and noncontraceptive effects. With proper usage, oral contraceptives provide highly effective contraception. In addition, oral contraceptives confer significant noncontraceptive health benefits, including prevention of ovarian and endometrial cancer and reduction in the incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, benign breast disease, and dysmenorrhea, among others. Today's low-dose oral contraceptives have an improved safety profile when contrasted with their early higher dose counterparts. Yet oral contraceptive use continues to be associated with a variety of minor side effects, which range from menstrual changes such as breakthrough bleeding, spotting, or amenorrhea, to androgenic effects, including weight gain and acne. These androgenic effects are important factors in patient discontinuation of oral contraceptives. Progestins with increased selectivity have the potential to cause fewer androgenic side effects while retaining appropriate progestin suppression of the endometrium and hypophyseal-pituitary-ovarian axis. A combination oral contraceptive (30 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol with 150 micrograms of desogestrel) has been evaluated extensively by European investigators. This literature suggests that a low-dose oral contraceptive formulated with the selective progestin desogestrel offers a favorable profile of reduced androgenic side effects while retaining the cycle control associated with low-dose oral contraceptives currently marketed in the United States.