The risk of serious harm from contraceptives is low for most women, particularly
when compared to the risks to health associated with pregnancy. Some contraceptives
have health benefits beyond preventing pregnancy. But because healthy
women and men use them for long periods of time, contraceptives are often held to
a higher standard of safety than drugs used to cure diseases. Blood clots among
users of the original high-dose combined oral contraceptives (COCs), controversy
about hormone replacement therapy, and problems with a flawed intrauterine contraceptive
(IUC or IUD), the Dalkon shield, increased the perception that contraceptives
are risky. This perception has been reinforced by television advertising
campaigns seeking women harmed by various contraceptives to join product liability

The perception of health-related risks of all kinds often does not coincide well with
reality. Women end up pregnant because they underestimate the risk of becoming
pregnant and decide not to use contraception, or because they discontinue contraception
because they overestimate the significance of minor side effects, or they
discontinue contraception because they have exaggerated fears about contraceptive
safety. For example, a majority of women in a recent pilot study inaccurately
believed that oral contraceptive use was more dangerous than pregnancy. In fact,
the risks of a pregnancy are far greater than those of oral contraceptive use for most
women. The risks of some health outcomes are strongly affected by the simultaneous
presence of more than one condition. For example, being both over age 35
and smoking increases the risk of blood clots (venous thromboembolism or VTE)
among hormonal contraception users far more than either being over age 35 or
smoking alone.

Contraceptive failure or non-use of contraception is common, so the reproductive
health risks of an unplanned pregnancy must be considered as a risk inherent to
non-use of contraception or choice of a contraceptive with low effectiveness and
a high likelihood of early discontinuation. The following section provides a brief
summary of the risks and benefits of the most effective and commonly used contraceptive
methods. Before adopting any particular contraceptive method, it is highly
advisable to thoroughly discuss the method’s risks, benefits, and side effects with a
health care provider.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.