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June 29, 2018

10 Perks of Using Birth Control Pills

Let’s face it, when we think of “the pill” we immediately associate it with avoiding pregnancy. While it is true that taking the pill at the same time each day will decrease your chance of becoming pregnant, there are so many other perks of “the pill” that are just as important.

And not all women take the pill just to prevent pregnancy. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute,14% of pill users (1.5 million women from 2006 to 2008) relied on the pill exclusively for reasons other than pregnancy prevention.

Image by Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Here are 10 ways your birth control pills help you beyond pregnancy prevention.

1. Helps to regulate your irregular periods

Everyone’s period is different and unique in its own way. Some are very light; others are very heavy. Some women’s last for a week while others may last longer…

Birth control pills can help to time and reduce the amount and length of bleeding. By taking birth control pills, you will be on a regulated menstrual cycle. That means — no random surprise visits from Aunt Flo! And you can plan your next vacation without interruption.

2. Decreases your acne outbreaks

We’ve all experienced waking up in the morning to brush our teeth, looking in the mirror and seeing a collection of freshly bloomed pimples. Ugh! While “the pill” isn’t the magical cure to perfect skin, it can help with moderate to severe acne caused by excessive hormone release. The hormones in birth control pills help stop acne from forming, but you must be patient because your acne won’t magically disappear overnight.

3. Reduces your symptoms of endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition that causes the tissue that should line the uterus to grow outside of the uterus. Ouch! Endometriosis causes excruciating pain from cramps and menstrual irregularities. To treat it, you may be instructed to take your birth control pills continuously without a placebo week. And just like that — you will also prevent your period from coming at all. Since periods can cause pain for young women with endometriosis, stopping periods will usually improve cramps and pelvic pain. [5]

4. Helps control your PMS

Imagine a period without the terrible PMS symptoms of fatigue, backache, headaches, mood swings, bloating, acne and breast soreness. By taking birth control pills consistently, it will not completely free you of these nasty symptoms, but it may reduce them by keeping hormone levels balanced and stopping ovulation.

5. Protects you against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs that causes common symptoms of pelvic pain and fevers — often caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The Women’s Health Study, one of the most detailed analyses of the association between oral contraceptives and PID, reports a 50% reduction in the incidence of PID in women using an OCP for at least 1 year compared with women who did not. How the heck does that work? The pill changes your cervical mucus which limits sperm passage, but it also works to limit bacteria from migrating into the upper genital tract.

6. Helps prevent iron deficiency

Anemia occurs when there is a lower number of red blood cells in your body. Iron lives in red blood cells and binds oxygen, carrying it to the rest of your body. By taking birth control pills, your body is able to decrease the amount of menstrual bleeding and increase your iron stores.

Hold on...there's more?

7. Reduces your risk of fibroids

Fibroids are compact tumors (usually benign, aka not cancerous) made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue that develop in the uterus. Some women show symptoms such as heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods or pelvic pain. Most women who have fibroids show no symptoms or mild symptoms — which means that cases go unnoticed.

While this sounds great… but there’s one problem. If or when you do want to get pregnant, the fibroids can restrict the space for the baby to grow, leading to abnormal baby positioning which may require a C-Section for delivery. The pill is able to reduce the risk of fibroid formation and reduce monthly bleeding.

8. Reduces your risk of ovarian cancer

By taking the pill you can reduce your chances of having ovarian cancer. What? Really? Yes. This is one of the most impressive benefits of the pill — besides that preventing pregnancy part. Ovarian cancer is often devastating because there are no symptoms in the early stages when it would be easier to cure. When it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen, it becomes more difficult to treat and has a high mortality rate in later stages. Women who used oral contraceptives for 5 or more years have ~ 50% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared with women who never used oral contraceptives.

9. Reduces your risk of endometrial cancer

Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system that affects the cells in the inner lining of the uterus by growing rapidly and out of control. According to the Society for Endocrinology, more than 15 case–control studies and 4 large cohort studies demonstrated a decrease in the risk of endometrial cancer by 50% for those women that have ever used a combined oral contraceptive pill.

10. It’s convenient to stop or start

Not ready to have a baby quite yet? No need to worry! Just take your pill consistently at the appropriate time and you will decrease your risk of becoming pregnant. On the other hand, maybe you have finally decided that you are ready to become pregnant. No need to wait, just stop taking your pills! The pill will not affect your fertility.

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Sources:

  1. Can Ovarian Cancer Be Prevented?
  2. Many American Women Use Birth Control Pills for Noncontraceptive Reasons
  3. Oral contraceptive pill use and pelvic inflammatory disease. | POPLINE.org
  4. Center for Young Women's Health
  5. Hormonal contraception and risk of endometrial cancer: a systematic review