5.5.1 Advantages of COCs
Most women can safely use COC pills throughout their reproductive years.
Combined oral contraceptives have a number of advantages. The main one is when taken consistently and correctly, COCs are very effective contraceptives that give women control over their own fertility. Most women can safely use COC pills throughout their reproductive years, as long as they want to prevent pregnancy. Thus, they can be used at any age from adolescence to menopause. More importantly, women’s fertility returns soon after stopping taking the pills. COCs can also prevent or decrease iron deficiency anaemia because the pills decrease menstrual flow significantly in women with a normal uterus, meaning they are less likely to develop iron deficiency anaemia.
COCs decrease menstrual cramps and pain. Some women consider this to be their most desirable effect. They also help prevent ectopic pregnancies, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease and benign breast disease. Furthermore, combined oral contraceptives can increase a woman’s sexual enjoyment because she does not have to worry about getting pregnant. In addition, they can be used as an emergency contraceptive after unprotected sex (refer to Study Session 10 on Emergency Contraception). See Box 5.4 for a summary of the advantages of combined oral contraceptives.
Box 5.4 Key points about oral contraceptives
- COCs are very effective contraceptives, giving women control over their own fertility when taken consistently and correctly.
- Fertility returns soon after stopping COC pills, which makes them an excellent option for women who want to become pregnant in the near future.
- Combined oral contraceptive pills decrease menstrual flow significantly in women with a normal uterus. Therefore, pill users are less likely to develop iron deficiency anaemia. Pills also decrease menstrual cramps and pain.