Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Hormonal Contraception

Blumenthal, Paul D. MD, MPH1; Edelman, Alison MD, MPH2

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31818425b7
Clinical Expert Series

Hormonal contraceptives have been a part of clinical practice for more than 40 years, and family planning programs, based largely on contraceptive provision, are regarded as one of the most successful public health interventions of the 20th century. Thus, discussion of family planning issues and contraceptive considerations has become an integral component of women's health care and one of the benchmarks of the traditional annual well-women visit. In terms of cost-effectiveness, prevention of unplanned pregnancies through contraceptive use has repeatedly been shown to be a highly cost-effective use of health care dollars. Options for effective hormonal contraception have expanded tremendously and include a variety of delivery options, including the pills both in traditional 21/7 format, and more recently in a 24/4 format, as well as a vaginal ring, a skin patch, implants, and the hormonally medicated intrauterine device. Importantly, the overall risks associated with hormonal contraceptives have been reduced as compared with older formulations, even for women with medical conditions. Many modern hormonal contraceptives also offer valuable noncontraceptive benefits. To help clinical decision making, a number of evidence-based guides have been published, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recently updated their practice bulletin on contraception use in women with medical conditions. In general, clinical protocols for provision of hormonal contraceptives have been streamlined, and unnecessary practices, tests, and procedures are identified and discouraged. In this review, we will summarize both technical and programmatic aspects of hormonal contraceptive use, and methods are discussed in order of efficacy from highest to lowest.

Technical and programmatic aspects of hormonal contraceptive use and methods are discussed in order of efficacy from highest to lowest. Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.

From the 1Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Stanford University, Stanford, California; and 2Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Oregon Health & Science University Portland, Oregon.

Continuing medical education is available online

See related article on page 563.

Corresponding author: Paul Blumenthal, MD, MPH, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 300 Pasteur Drive, HH-333, Stanford, CA 94305-5317; e-mail:

Financial Disclosure Dr. Edelman is a consultant for Organon, Inc. (Roseland, NJ). Dr. Blumenthal is an advisor to Organon, Inc.

© 2008 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.