We all know that hormonal birth control is associated with pregnancy and preventing it. However, only a few people understand that hormonal birth control methods provide a wide variety of health benefits other than pregnancy prevention.
Birth control pills, also called oral contraceptive pills or hormonal pills, contain one or two kinds of synthetic female hormones estrogen and/or progestin, the same hormones the women’s ovaries produce. When taken properly, they can help regulate the period, make it less painful, clear up your skin, and even lower your risk of some cancers and diseases associated with the women’s reproductive health.
If you’re thinking of taking birth control pills for reasons other than preventing unwanted pregnancy, here 10 health benefits to keep in mind. Just make sure to seek medical advice first before trying it out.
1. Regular menstrual cycles
Hormonal birth control methods work to balance the hormonal fluctuations that take place throughout your menstrual cycle. They help with the common issues, including irregular periods, heavy blood flow, or lack of periods. If you’re irregular, you can take traditional birth control pills to even out your period so you can determine exactly when it’s coming.
2. The freedom to bleed on your terms
Newer products let you be in control of your period, which would work best for your lifestyle. Most packs come with a week of placebo pills, which are “inactive” and don’t contain any hormones. Usually, you get your period the week you take these inactive pills. Some options can make your monthly cycle shorter.
3. Less painful periods
Alleviating menstrual pain is one of the major reasons why women take these pills. Hormonal birth control prevents ovulation, a part of the menstrual cycle that’s responsible for painful contractions that cause cramps.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that our menstrual cramps are as painful as a heart attack – there’s a gynecology study validating the claim. That said, any possible way to diminish the monthly pain serves as music to our ears.
4. Lighter period and lower risk of anemia
If you’re suffering from iron deficiency (anemia), a physician may prescribe can birth control pills to make your period lighter and lose less blood.
Birth control pills prevent ovulation an making the uterus lining thinner. This, in return, lowers your risk of heavy menstrual bleeding.
5. Helps manage Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
It’s during the week before the period that women experience a mix of physical and emotional symptoms, including weight gain and bloating, breast soreness, acne, and insane mood swings. It’s the PMS symptoms telling us that the red days are near.
PMS is usually due to hormonal fluctuations. Birth control pills may be prescribed to even out hormone levels during the cycle and prevent sudden mood swings and other symptoms
6. Less hormonal acne and excess hair
Your acne may not be caused by greasy foods or dirty makeup brushes – it may have something to do with your hormonal fluctuations.
For moderate to severe acne, which OTC acne treatment and prescription medicines cannot cure, doctors may prescribe birth control pills to stop hormonal acne from forming. Hormonal pills that contain progesterone (a.k.a combination pills) are extremely effective at fighting acne.
Birth control pills can also prevent unwanted hair growth by reducing the levels of male hormones your ovaries produce.
7. Helps manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a common condition among young women. It’s a hormonal imbalance in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone, causing irregular periods, acne, and excess hair growth. Birth control pills help by evening out your hormones, reducing testosterone levels, and regulating your period.
8. Reduced risk of ovarian cysts
By preventing ovulation, birth control pills can prevent the ovarian cysts from forming. They can even stop former cysts from coming back.
9. Relief from Endometriosis symptoms
Endometriosis is a painful condition in which the lining of the uterus grows outside of it. While the pills don’t necessarily cure it, they help relieve the pain by stopping your periods.
10. Lower risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers, and other diseases
Women who have taken birth control pills are less likely to develop endometrial (uterine) cancer, a type of cancer that begins in the layer of cells that form the uterus lining. Studies also have shown that they lead to lower rates of ovarian cancers and pelvic diseases
So what’s the catch?
Before you head out to buy a pack, remember that they require a prescription from a healthcare provider, like a gynecologist or OB/GYN. Go for a consultation first because birth control pills are not for everyone.
For some, it could cause several physical and emotional symptoms. Side effects include very light bleeding or irregular periods, nausea, headaches, mood swings, breakouts, sore breasts, and weight change.
Side effects often go after the first three to four cycles. Take note of these symptoms and talk to your gynecologist, obstetrician, or dermatologists about them, especially if these warning signs are becoming severe. Discuss any medical history too, as well as the other medications you’re taking.
If you’re over the age of 35 and you’re a smoker, oral contraceptives may increase your risk of high blood pressure and blood clots. Some types, like combination pills, increase these risks even in nonsmokers. You may also avoid if you have (or have had) breast cancer, vein inflammation, blood clot disorder, heart problems, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and liver disease.
It’s important to take note that each type of pill or birth control method can affect each woman differently. They have different doses and hormone combinations. You might need to try a few options and seek medical advice before finding out which one works best for you.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a resident writer for , a Medical Aesthetic and Skin Cancer Centre providing top of the line services from industry-leading skin cancer treatments to innovative medical aesthetic procedures. She writes articles focusing on cosmetic, medical, and surgical care, and wellness.