Will the pill make me sterile? Addressing reproductive health concerns and strategies to improve adherence to hormonal contraceptive regimens in adolescent girls

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2001 Nov;14(4):153-62. doi: 10.1016/s1083-3188(01)00123-1.


PAPER OBJECTIVE: This paper is designed to help clinicians understand the relationship between hormonal contraceptive side effects and the potential development of general and reproductive health concerns that can impact on adherence to hormonal contraception. By understanding the concerns raised by young women, we can then make our counseling more specific to the factors that affect compliance in this population.

Design: Studies that specifically addressed hormonal contraceptive compliance, side effects, and method selection in adolescents and young women were chosen for this paper. All articles were from peer-reviewed journals. Medline-Ovid articles from 1980-2000 were used with the following search keywords: Contraception, Patient Compliance, Hormonal Contraception, Oral Contraceptive Pills, Norplant, Depo Provera, and Adolescents.

Data synthesis: The general public has many concerns about the safety of hormonal contraception. The development of side effects, especially those that are menstrual-related, seem to cause adolescents and young women to feel that their general and reproductive health is being threatened.

Conclusions: Hormonal contraceptive counseling should include 1) explaining, in a nontechnical manner, how these methods work; 2) addressing negative information the patient has heard about the methods; 3) providing factual information about cancer risks, blood clots, and other general health concerns; 4) discussing the potential side effects and what each means to her health; 5) asking specifically about possible reproductive health worries, especially in light of the menstrual irregularities that may occur; and 6) assuring the patient that she should always feel free to share her concerns and worries with you, the provider.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services*
  • Contraceptives, Oral / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Contraceptives, Oral / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gynecology
  • Humans
  • Menstruation Disturbances / chemically induced
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / prevention & control
  • Public Opinion
  • Risk Factors


  • Contraceptives, Oral