Non-contraceptive benefits of oral contraceptives

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2008 Sep;9(13):2317-25. doi: 10.1517/14656566.9.13.2317.


Background: There is increasing awareness of the opportunity that many contraceptive interventions may provide for additional health benefits. However, treatment of medical problems with oral contraceptives (OCs) is often an 'off-label' practice.

Objective: The aim of this review is to summarize available data on non-contraceptive benefits of OCs.

Methods: Review of the literature.

Results: OCs have been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancer. It has been suggested that OCs may be used in treatment of endometriosis, menorrhagia, and uterine leiomyomas. Pelvic inflammatory disease, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and acne have been shown to improve under OCs.

Conclusion: OCs are important for global and female health. Besides contraception, non-contraceptive effects of OCs are evidence based, well established, and commonly used in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / prevention & control
  • Breast Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Contraceptives, Oral / therapeutic use*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Endometriosis / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / drug therapy
  • Menorrhagia / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Cysts / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Uterine Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Contraceptives, Oral