Despite its name, contraceptive birth control has more uses than preventing pregnancy. Your women’s health provider may also prescribe it for a variety of different purposes. For instance, contraception can often carry secondary benefits for the skin, menstrual cycle, and overall gynecologic health. In this post, we’re covering six non-pregnancy prevention reasons women use contraception. Because everyone is different, an experienced provider can help you determine the benefits and risks for your situation.
For some women, contraception can help:
- Clear skin
- Reduce heavy period flow
- Alleviate PMS
- Lower risk of some cancers
- Regulate menstruation
- Prevent ovarian cysts
In this post, learn more about these reasons women use contraception beyond pregnancy prevention and the possible benefits you may want to discuss with your provider.
Hormonal acne often develops because of an increase in androgen levels. While androgens like testosterone are male sex hormones, females have them too. Since birth control pills contain the female hormones estrogen and progestin, they can help reduce severe cases of hormonal acne in some women by altering the ratio of male and female sex hormones. Dermatologists often prescribe the birth control pill as an acne treatment for this reason.
Reduce heavy period flow
Some women naturally have manageable periods with few unfavorable symptoms, while others experience heavy and painful periods. Certain types of birth control can help women in the latter group reduce their monthly flow. Hormonal IUDs often make periods lighter and shorter, or in some cases, cause them to cease entirely. The pill also causes lighter periods in some women because there is less uterine lining to shed. Birth control that decreases bleeding is also an effective option to treat iron-deficiency anemia.
In addition to lessening the severity of bleeding, the combination birth control pill can help with PMS symptoms like mood swings, cramps, and headaches. It works by preventing extreme hormone changes and stabilizing levels throughout your cycle.
Lower risk of some cancers
Another reason some women use contraception beyond pregnancy prevention has to do with their genetic predisposition to gynecologic cancers. Birth control pills and hormonal IUDs can help prevent ovarian and endometrial cancers by up to 50%. However, the tradeoff can be a slightly higher risk of breast and cervical cancer, so the specifics of your family and personal history play a critical role in determining the best contraception fit for you.
We’ve all been there: you book an exciting vacation, then realize that an unwelcome visitor will be coming along. With the pill, it’s easy to regulate or control your menstruation. Packs typically contain a week of placebo pills to keep you in the habit of taking a pill each day. To skip or delay a period, don’t take the placebo pills and move on to your next pack. Some women choose to do this every month to eliminate periods entirely.
Prevent ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts form during or after ovulation. Since birth control often prevents ovulation, it can have the dual effect of preventing ovarian cysts as well (though it does not treat existing ones). If you have had problem cysts in the past, your provider may discuss the ability to lower your risk of future ones by using a combination pill.
However, cyst prevention does not extend to progestin-only pills, which do not consistently stop ovulation or IUDs. About 1 in 10 women with an IUD get an ovarian cyst during the first year after insertion, though they are usually harmless and go away on their own.
If the reasons women use contraception beyond pregnancy prevention in this article has inspired you to find out whether it is right for you (there are even more reasons than we discussed in this article), request an appointment with our doctors, midwives, and women’s health team today. You can also reach us by phone at (920) 885-6090.