7 Ways Birth Control Can Benefit Your Health
You’ve heard that birth control can do more than just protect you from pregnancy, but you might wonder what else it can do. And you might wonder if the pill is the only method that offers more than protection against pregnancy.
We’ll let you in on a secret. It’s not only the pill that has extra benefits. Other hormone-based birth control methods, such as the shot, patch and vaginal ring, can also improve your health and well-being.
Here are seven reasons you might want to take birth control for something other than preventing pregnancy.
1. Reduce Symptoms of PMS
Most women will experience premenstrual symptoms (PMS) at some point. Well-known symptoms include bloating, headaches, cramps, and moodiness. Generally, symptoms go away after the first or second day of your period.
Not all women have PMS, and not all women with PMS have the same symptoms. Sometimes, a woman may have an extreme form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The estrogen and progestin in birth control can help stabilize the hormonal changes that cause PMS and PMDD.
For this reason alone, many women will choose to take birth control. But before you set up an office visit with your doctor, you might try an online birth control prescription for convenience.
2. Make Periods More Regular
The monthly visit from “Aunt Flo” can be frustrating enough. It can be even more annoying for women who suffer from irregular periods. There’s nothing worse than being out with friends and realizing you don’t have the feminine supplies you suddenly need. Birth control can make periods predictable. That way, you always know when to have supplies ready and with you.
There’s an extra bonus here. Some options may also stop your period altogether. The shot will often prevent your period for 12 weeks at a time. Some pill options can help you skip a single period or skip for as long as a year. You may want to ask your doctor about the pros and cons of these prescriptions, too.
3. Treat Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a condition in which uterine-like tissue can grow around other abdominal reproductive organs. In some extreme cases, it can grow in other organs in the pelvic area. The condition often causes severe pain and cramping. It can also cause pain during intercourse. The pain can last through your period and sometimes longer.
A related condition called dysmenorrhea may intensify the problem. Dysmenorrhea causes excessive cramping and is caused by too much of the hormone prostaglandin.
While birth control isn’t known to cure endometriosis, it can help relieve the symptoms. This is especially true if you choose a prescription that stops the full menstrual cycle so you don’t have a period.
4. Avoid Anemia
Some women bleed heavily during their periods. Excessive bleeding can cause anemia, a lack of red blood cells carrying oxygen through the body. Common symptoms of anemia include weakness and fatigue. Your doctor can check for anemia with a simple blood test to confirm whether you are anemic.
Birth control can help prevent anemia by reducing the amount of lining in the uterus. In turn, this produces less blood loss during your period. Less blood loss means that you can hopefully feel less tired and more like yourself. A lighter period may also help reduce cramping, another added bonus of birth control.
5. Reduce Cysts in Breasts and Ovaries
Sometimes cysts develop in the breasts or on the ovaries. These are fluid-filled sacs and usually harmless, though they can cause pain. Most of the time, women just live with these cysts. However, when they become painful, surgery is one option to remove them. Once removed, the hormones in birth control can help reduce or prevent a recurrence of the cysts.
If you believe you have cysts in your breasts or ovaries, the best thing to do is call your primary care doctor. Explain to them what you found. They can verify what is happening, establish a diagnosis, and recommend treatment.
6. Prevent Cancer
The idea of getting cancer may conjure thoughts of long, painful treatments and high mortality rates. It’s something that scares most people. But taking birth control is known to help prevent certain gynecologic cancers such as endometrial (uterine) and ovarian cancers.
According to WebMD, using hormone-based birth control makes it less likely you’ll develop these cancers versus someone who never took birth control. Furthermore, the lowered risk may last for 30 years after you stop taking birth control as an extra benefit.
But remember, there’s no guarantee you won’t get cancer. Many other factors influence its development. Regular doctor’s visits are the best way to catch problems early and have the best available treatment options.
7. Treat PCOS
Similar to PMS, some women have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It is a hormonal imbalance disorder that occurs when ovulation fails to happen. The growths in polycystic ovaries look like a string of pearls, but they aren’t really cysts. These growths are one of the factors doctors use to help diagnose PCOS.
This syndrome may include some of the symptoms that are also common with regular periods. PCOS can also result in acne, too much or little body hair, weight gain, and polycystic ovaries. This hormonal imbalance can also cause a woman to grow hair:
- Above her lip and on her chin
- Between her belly button and pubic bone
- Between her breasts
However, the opposite may also occur, and a woman may lose her hair. This is called alopecia, and it follows male-pattern baldness. Alopecia can also cause hair loss in other areas of the body. Some forms of birth control are known to help treat PCOS, so check with your doctor about your options.
While prescription birth control was created to prevent pregnancies, its benefits go well beyond that. It can help treat a large variety of symptoms related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Patients need to talk with their medical provider about lifestyle and goals. Let your provider help you find the best option for your needs. Make sure you discuss both the pros and cons of any birth control product you might choose.