The birth control pill (or just “the pill” as it is commonly known) is the most popular method of birth control in the US for a very simple reason: it works. Birth control pills are up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. However, contraception is far from the only benefit of this form of hormonal birth control. In fact, according to research performed by the Guttmacher Institute, up to 14% of women in the US who take the pill take it exclusively for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. The same study indicated that another 58% of these women take birth control pills partly for their non-contraceptive benefits. This means millions of women in the US are taking advantage of the extra benefits of birth control pills. To help keep our patients informed, the board-certified gynecologists at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett are here to discuss the benefits of the birth control pill that they might not be aware of.
Bonus Benefit #1 – Regular Periods
Several factors including weight, stress levels, certain medications and health conditions can affect a woman’s period. Taking the birth control pill can help make your menstrual cycle more predictable. With most birth control pills, there is 21 day cycle of hormone-containing pills, followed by seven days of placebo pills that contain no hormones. During this placebo week, the break from synthetic hormones will initiate bleeding similar to a regular period. Your periods may be less painful as well.
Bonus Benefit #2 – Lowered Ovarian Cancer Risk
Taking the birth control pill can lower a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women annually in the US according to the American Cancer Society. Additionally, the longer a woman takes the pill, the more her risk drops over time. A recent research review published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that taking birth control pills can reduce a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer by age forty to 50%.
Bonus Benefit #3 – Easing Endometriosis Symptoms
Birth control pills can also be used to help treat endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus starts growing outside of the uterus and extending to other reproductive organs. Although some women with endometriosis may not experience any symptoms, others can suffer from severe pain in the pelvic area, as well as irregular bleeding and trouble becoming pregnant. The hormones in the birth control pill can help slow the growth of these tissues, easing the pain and other symptoms.
Bonus Benefit #4 – Potentially Clearer Skin
As an added aesthetic perk, birth control pills can help increase the quality of your skin. Combination birth control pills (containing both estrogen and progestin) can lower your body’s levels of androgen, a hormone that helps produce oils in the skin. Additionally, birth control pills can cut back on a woman’s testosterone hormone that can lead to unwelcome acne breakouts and excess body hair growth.
No matter what your reason is for taking it, it’s clear that taking oral contraception can have a wide range of benefits for women of all ages. Although the birth control pill is considered a very safe and effective option for preventing unwanted pregnancies, every patient has different needs and we understand this option may not be the best choice for everyone. To help find the right birth control method for you, we recommend scheduling a consultation with Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. If you would like more information on birth control and other reproductive health issues for women, as well as details on our upcoming health and wellness events, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.