Birth control: Its name is its purpose. It’s a medication designed to prevent pregnancy. When it comes to definitions, it doesn’t get much clearer than that. For many people, birth control removes the stress that comes with having an active sex life.
But did you know birth control can be your wing-woman for several other benefits? It’s an equally helpful medication for everything from your face to your energy level to your long-term health. For more than 50 different types of birth control, you can check out Nurx.com. Your healthcare provider can help you decide which one offers the most positives possible. Check out eight ways birth control can improve your health below.
1. Lowers Some Cancer Risks
This is a big one. Just the word “cancer” is terrifying, and you might have heard birth control can increase your risk. While that’s true for birth control pills and IUDs, there’s more to the story. It’s all in how these medications manage your hormones.
If you use birth control options like the pill, you’ll ovulate less frequently and deal with lower hormone levels. As a result, after four years of birth control use, your risk of ovarian and uterine cancer drops by 50% for decades. The chances of getting breast and cervical cancer do increase slightly. But, that effect disappears five years after you stop taking birth control.
2. Mitigates Ovarian Cysts and Endometriosis
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are common complications for women. If you have either, you know how debilitating they can be. With PCOS, you can develop several non-dangerous (but painful) ovarian cysts. And endometriosis traps tissue that is typically expelled during your period, causing inflammation and severe pain.
So how can birth control help? By skipping your period, for one. It also helps keep your hormone levels more constant to prevent any cyst growth — old or new. Plus, controlling bleeding, can decrease discomfort.
3. Curbs Acne
Acne can be a struggle well past your teen years. If over-the-counter or prescription acne meds aren’t zapping your zits, birth control might be the answer. It controls the same hormones that can cause excess oil and breakouts.
The great news is the effect generally lasts for as long as you use your chosen birth control option. Talk to your doctor about whether birth control is a good option.
4. Helps Prevent Migraines
When you get an ear-ringing headache, you might think sleep deprivation, loud noises, or bright lights are to blame. That can be true, but sometimes it’s your hormones. When they swing too low, your head can pay the price. If that’s the case, birth control could be the remedy.
Pre-period declines in estrogen and progesterone levels open the door for head-thumping migraines. As mentioned above, birth control helps level your hormones. Mainly, it stops them from dropping too low, helping you avoid migraines.
Be sure to check with your doctor if birth control is safe for your migraines as it can increase stroke risk in some people.
5. Controls Your Menstrual Cycle
Have you ever had Aunt Flo show up a few days early and ruin your vacation? Maybe you were headed to a fancy dinner out or were wearing cute new white pants. What if a medication could eliminate those unfortunate possibilities? When you follow the instructions, birth control can.
More traditional and new forms of birth control alike can give you control of your cycle. Some versions have one week of inactive pills that you can choose to take when it’s most convenient. The inactive pills signal your body to begin a period. Other types offer three months of active pills — that means you only have four periods a year! If you’re looking for a lighter period instead of choosing when to skip them, IUDs or the shot could be your best bet.
6. Helps Stave Off Anemia
It’s generally understood that when you bleed, you lose red blood cells. When you’re on your period, typically it isn’t enough to cause a problem. But if you’re soaking through pads or tampons faster than the suggested time, you could be at risk for anemia. Anemic people do not have enough, or correctly sized, red blood cells, which can result in exhaustion and weakness.
You could take iron pills to prevent anemia, but that’s just one more medication to remember. The birth control benefit here is simple and direct. The medication lets you skip periods if you want to. Fewer periods mean less bleeding. The lower your blood loss, the lower your likelihood of developing period-related anemia.
7. Moderates Mood Swings
Maybe it doesn’t happen every month. Chances are, though, you’ve had a few days around your period where you just feel “off.” If so, you’re one of the millions of women who deal with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it — birth control can be your hero here, too.
While not researched enough, there is evidence that the hormonal rollercoaster prior to and during periods can cause PMS and PMDD. The right birth control option can wrangle those symptoms. While both PMS and PMDD spike around your period, they require different birth control medications to reduce symptoms. Be sure to check with your doctor to see which option is best for you.
8. Reduces Unwanted Hair Growth
When you look in the mirror, do you see a few stray hairs popping up where you don’t want them? Maybe they’re on your upper lip, your chin, or somewhere else on your body. It doesn’t matter where — you just want them gone.
Like many other pesky issues, your hormones are responsible. But this time, it’s an androgen, the male sex hormone. Birth control pills with both estrogen and progestin can counterbalance your androgen level. These are known as combination pills. Pills that have higher estrogen concentrations usually work better at reducing male-pattern hair growth. Most people see a noticeable improvement within six months!
Birth control plays a big role in providing pregnancy prevention and peace of mind in your sex life. The great news is that it offers many more health benefits at the same time. Talk with your doctor to see if — and in what ways — birth control can help your health and happiness.