EVEN AS researchers continue to develop new forms of birth control—including Norplant II, injectable contraceptives, vaginal rings, contraceptive patches, and male contraceptives—older, effective methods are often misunderstood by both physicians and their patients.
And while the adverse effects of current contraceptives are widely known, the benefits are too often overlooked, noted a panel of physicians at the annual clinical meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in Denver, Colo.
The result: Women avoid some methods unnecessarily and use others ineffectively.
"We can't afford to underestimate the effectiveness of birth control and overestimate its risks," said Luella Klein, MD, director of ACOG's Department of Women's Health Issues. Although women who take oral contraceptives experience more regular menstrual cycles, less cramping, fewer breast and ovarian cysts, and less cancer in the lining of the uterus, for example, physicians rarely point out those benefits to patients, Klein observed. "On our