31 August 2006

Benefits beyond birth control

Oral contraception does so much more than protect women from unwanted pregnancies, says Dr Esther Sapire, Cape-based sex therapist.


"Oral contraception (OC) is not only there to protect women from unwanted pregnancies", says Dr Esther Sapire, Cape-based sex therapist, but also to offer other significant health benefits. "Oral contraceptives have allowed for the emancipation of women as they regulate her fertility and give her the means to decide when and whether to have children."

Dr Sapire states that one of the major benefits of OCs is that they improve a woman's love life by allowing her the freedom from interruption in lovemaking. This means that women in a monogamous sexual relationship no longer have to bother with creams and caps or stop the act of lovemaking at any time to make use of a condom or practice the withdrawal method.

Additional benefits which improve the health and the way a woman feels and looks include:

  • Reduces ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancies, benign breast disease, endometriosis, heavy bleeding, dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) and ovulation pain.
  • Regulates menses and reduces premenstrual syndrome
  • Skin problems like acne are improved.
  • Reduces the number of abortions.
  • Pre-menopausal women up to 50 years of age are protected from unwanted pregnancies, experience a reduction in menopausal symptoms and still maintain sexual activity. The introduction of low dose oral contraceptives is also very suitable for older women.
  • Reduces the incidence of ovarian and endometrial cancer.
  • A relatively unknown fact is that pregnancy causes higher risks of thrombosis/DVT than the pill. However, if the risk of thrombosis or DVT runs in a woman's family, a 1st degree family history (mother or sister), then she should be screened prior to going on any form of oral contraception.

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