Did You Know that Birth Control has Benefits Beyond Preventing Pregnancy?

By Michele Sinopoli, MD
Reliant Medical Group Obstetrics and Gynecology

Many women enjoy the convenience of using a hormonal birth control method, such as oral contraceptive pills, arm implant, IUD, patch, vaginal hormonal ring, as well as others. While these methods of birth control aren’t right for everyone, they can provide significant health benefits in addition to birth control for many women. It’s important to talk to your health care provider about the birth control method that’s best for you. For instance, if you smoke and are over 35, hormonal birth control can increase your risk of blood clots and high blood pressure.

Below are some of the key benefits of hormonal birth control:

Regulation of menstrual cycles

Hormonal birth control methods help balance the hormonal fluctuations that happen during a women’s natural cycle. This can often help with a variety of menstrual issues, including irregular or heavy bleeding. Hormonal birth control methods make periods lighter and more consistent in their timing, which many women find beneficial.

Less painful periods

Menstrual pain caused by uterine contractions is a problem for many women. Hormonal birth control prevents ovulation, so the uterus doesn’t experience the contractions that can cause painful cramps when during ovulation.

Acne problems can improve

Hormonal fluctuations can be major triggers of acne, especially among younger women. By minimizing the ups and downs in hormone levels, acne is often reduced. Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone are known to be the most effective against acne.

Reduced cancer risk

One of the best long-term benefits of hormonal birth control is that it reduces the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer. Risk is reduced at least 30% for endometrial cancer and from 30% to 50% for ovarian cancer in women using birth control pills long term, according to the National Cancer Institute. These protective effects can continue for many years after taking the contraceptive.

Reduction in ovarian cysts

Many women experience painful ovarian cysts (small, fluid-filled sacs that form in the ovaries). By preventing ovulation, hormonal birth control can prevent these cysts from forming. Hormonal birth control methods can also help with symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), including reducing cyst formation and improving acne.

Relief from symptoms of PMS and PMDD

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects many women in the weeks or days leading up to their period. The physical and emotional symptoms of PMS are due to hormonal fluctuations. Since hormonal birth control stabilizes hormone levels, these symptoms are reduced. Hormonal birth control can also help with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a highly severe form of PMS that can be difficult to treat. A combination birth control pill (containing ethinyl estadiol and drospirenone) has been approved by the FDA for treating PMDD.

Fewer menstrual migraines

Experts believe that menstrual migraines occur because of a drop in estrogen and progesterone just before a women’s period starts. Hormonal birth control methods that allow you to skip your period can help avoid this drop in hormone levels and prevent some migraines from occurring.

Reduced risk of anemia

Women who experience heavy bleeding during their period can increase their risk of anemia (a lack of red blood cells in the body which causes weakness and fatigue). Since hormonal birth control methods allow women to skip their periods, it can help prevent this type of anemia.

Keep in mind there are always pluses and minuses about every method of birth control, including hormonal birth control. This is why you should always discuss the birth control method that’s most suitable for your health and lifestyle with your OB-Gyn or primary care provider.

Did You Know that Birth Control has Benefits Beyond Preventing Pregnancy?

About Michele Sinopoli, MD

When she first went to college, Dr. Michele Sinopoli studied bio-medical engineering. However, after a while she realized that being in a lab all day wasn’t what really interested her. “I had a summer job as a bio-medical engineer at a local hospital,” she explains. “One day an obstetrician asked me if I wanted to see a delivery. Once I witnessed the miracle of birth and saw the joy the parents experienced, I knew that was the field...

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