Birth control pills are a type of medicine containing hormones that work to regulate the menstrual cycle and prevent periods. Some of the many benefits of birth control include preventing pregnancy, regulating periods, and reducing the risk of ovarian cysts, anemia, and migraines. In this 2-minute article we answer the question, what are the benefits of birth control?
What is Birth Control?
Birth control refers to a number of methods used to prevent pregnancy before it begins. Most often, when people speak about birth control, they are referring to the birth control pill. Birth control pills are safe and affordable methods of preventing pregnancy. They generally come in a pack. One pill should be taken a day.
There are two kinds of birth control pills: combination pills and progestin-only pills. Combination pills are the most common type of birth control pill. They contain both estrogen and progestin.
How Does Birth Control Work?
Birth control works to prevent sperm from joining with an egg. The two kinds of birth control pills work in different ways. Progestin-only pills work by thickening cervical mucus and thinning the lining of the uterus. This makes it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg and for an egg to implant in the endometrium of the uterus. Combination pills work by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg and by thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg
Who Should Not Take Birth Control?
Birth control pills can be taken safely and effectively by most women, however, they should not be taken by women over the age of 35 who smoke. When combined with nicotine, the estrogen in birth control pills places stress on blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Women with liver disease, diabetes, migraines, and liver problems should consult with a licensed doctor before taking birth control.
What Are the Benefits of Birth Control?
Birth control pills offer many benefits in addition to regulating periods and preventing pregnancy. When used correctly, estrogen and progestin in birth control can clear up skin, improve hair health, and lower the risk of developing cancer, ovarian cysts, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. The hormones in birth control can also help manage and prevent unwanted side effects of your period, such as menstrual migraines. The following are some of the many benefits of taking birth control.
For most women, the central goal of taking birth control is the prevention of pregnancy. Both types of birth control pills can effectively prevent pregnancy. Progestin-only birth control pills work by thickening cervical mucus and thinning the lining of the uterus. Combination pills work in two ways: both by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg and by thickening cervical mucus.
The birth control pill prevents your body from making hormones involved in ovulation and menstruation. Doctors sometimes prescribe birth control pills to balance the hormonal fluctuations that often occur during menstruation. This can help with a variety of menstrual issues including excessive or irregular bleeding and cramping.
Less Severe Cramps and PMS
Birth control works to decrease the amount of prostaglandins—chemicals produced by the body to help the muscles of the uterus contract. Most of the pain women feel during their period is caused by uterus contractions.
Clears Up Skin and Hair
Dermatologists have used birth control pills to treat acne in women for decades; there are currently three birth control pills that have been approved for acne treatment. Birth control is typically used to treat acne after other acne treatments have been exhausted. Acne often occurs when androgens in the body are stimulated to produce an excess of an oily substance known as sebum. Combination birth control pills that contain both estrogen progesterone lowers the amount of androgens in the body, which helps reduce levels of oil in the skin and hair.
Reduces Risk of Developing Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are painful fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the ovaries during ovulation. Many ovarian cysts are too small to cause pain, but some may rupture, causing acute and intense pain. By preventing ovulation, hormonal birth control significantly reduces the chances of ovarian cysts forming.
Helps Manage Menstrual Migraines
Migraine headaches affect almost 30 million Americans every year, 75% of which are women. A menstrual migraine is an intense headache usually caused by changes in levels of estrogen and progesterone. The birth control pill avoids the drop in estrogen and progesterone linked in migraine headaches.
Helps Treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Although there is no known cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome, birth control pills have demonstrated the ability to help manage its symptoms. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a health condition that enlarges ovaries and results in the development of small cysts. According to the Office on Women’s Health, roughly 10% of women have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Birth control can help manage common symptoms of PCOS including acne, bloating, cramps, and hormonal imbalances.
Birth Control Can Reduce the Risk of Anemia
Some women who experience especially heavy bleeding during their periods are at risk for anemia. Anemia is a serious condition in which the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells to adequately supply oxygen to the body. By eliminating heavy bleeding from periods, birth control can drastically reduce a woman’s risk for anemia.
The use of birth control pills is a safe and effective method for preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills can be taken safely by most women and, when taken correctly, have a 91% success rate.
There are numerous benefits of birth control pills besides pregnancy prevention. These include less severe cramps, clearer skin and hair, a regulated period, and reduced risk of anemia and menstrual migraines.