What is the role of oral contraceptives (OCs) in the treatment of hirsutism?

Updated: May 01, 2020
  • Author: George T Griffing, MD; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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OCs: The drugs most widely used to suppress ovarian androgen production are OCs. They are probably the first choice for young women with hirsutism who do not want to become pregnant.

  • OCs are inexpensive and promote regular uterine bleeding. In addition, OCs can be used in combination with one of the antiandrogens or other forms of therapy. On the other hand, do not use OCs in women with a history of migraines, known or possible thrombotic disease, or breast or uterine cancer.

  • Moreover, for several reasons, OCs have a significant failure rate in patients with hirsutism. Low-dose OCs and progestin-only minipills fail to suppress ovulation in as many as 50% of women. Ovarian function continues at a variable rate, and ovarian androgens continue to be produced. Second, the progestins in OCs are attenuated derivatives of testosterone and have variable degrees of androgenic activity in women. The degree depends on the type of progestin and, more importantly, on individual susceptibility.

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