NEW YORK (August 16, 2010) -- The first study to compare the effectiveness of the birth control pill in women with marked weight differences has found that the pill works equally well in women with obesity and thinner women. This new finding by physician-scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center refutes a long-held conviction among many doctors that the pill may not reliably prevent pregnancy in women who are overweight or obese.
With obesity a significant health issue in the United States -- the U.S. government estimates that nearly 65 percent of adult women ages 20 and older are overweight or obese -- the reliability of the birth control pill in this population is critical, especially since pregnancy itself is riskier among women with obesity.
"As a physician, I am relieved by the results of this study. When I prescribe oral contraceptives to my patients with obesity, I can feel confident that I am giving them something that will work," says principal investigator Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Division of Family Planning at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and an obstetrician/gynecologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
In the study, published in the August issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, Dr. Westhoff and her colleagues did not rely, as previous studies had, on women's recollections of how much they may have weighed at a time when the pill had failed and they became pregnant.
"We wanted to study what was actually happening in the ovaries of women and not depend on memory, which is notoriously faulty," Dr. Westhoff says.
Dr. Westhoff and her colleagues designed a prospective study where 226 women of normal weight or who were overweight, and between the ages of 18 and 35, were randomly assigned to take either a lower- or higher-dose version of the pill. The
|Contact: Belinda Mager|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center