Millions of women use hormonal birth control methods to prevent pregnancy. However, pregnancy prevention isn’t the only benefit of this type of birth control. Depending on the exact formula, hormonal birth control can offer other health advantages, such as clearing up acne, regulating periods, reducing your risk of certain types of cancer, lessening your PMS symptoms, and scheduling or skipping your periods. Non-hormonal birth control methods, such as condoms, sponges, cervical caps, spermicides, and copper IUDs will not provide the same benefits.
1. Better Skin
Hormonal changes trigger acne for many women. If you’re in this boat, you may find that you’re constantly dealing with acne flare-ups around the start of your period. When you use a hormonal birth control option, these fluctuations will be better controlled, which means you may notice a significant reduction in hormonal acne. Combination birth control pills, or those that contain both progestin (progesterone) and estrogen, are the most effective at combating acne.
2. Easier Periods
Many women start taking hormonal birth control as way to treat difficult periods. If you experience heavy or irregular bleeding, painful cramps, or irregular cycle lengths that make it hard to know when your period is coming, then the pill, patch, or vaginal ring will reduce your body’s hormonal fluctuations and bring relief from your period problems.
Different forms of hormonal birth control vary slightly in the types and amounts of hormones they contain, so if period regulation is one of your main reasons for using it, tell that to your healthcare provider. Yasmin is an example of a combination pill with the ability to regulate periods.
3. Less PMS
Dealing with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) isn’t fun for anybody, but some women find it debilitating. For these women, PMS symptoms like mood swings, back pain, breast tenderness, headaches, bloating, and depression are so severe that they are unable to work or participate in their normal activities during the days before their periods start.
The good news is that hormonal birth control can lessen these symptoms or even do away with them for good. Birth control pills, rings, and patches all contain one or two hormones that prevent ovulation and the subsequent sharp drop in hormones that leads to PMS. You may still experience some PMS symptoms during the placebo week of your pills, before and during your period, but the symptoms should be minor compared to what you’d experience without hormonal birth control. Loestrin FE is one birth control pill that can help reduce severe menstrual cramps, mood swings, irritability, and breast tenderness.
4. Reduced Cancer Risk
According to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, using a combination birth control pill reduces a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer by 50%. The longer you use the pill, the higher the reduction of risk will be, and these effects last up to 20 years after you stop taking birth control pills. Additionally, combination pills can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by about 20% for every five years you use them.
While obviously not as serious as cancer, fluid-filled cysts can form in the ovaries and breast tissue, and although they usually aren’t dangerous, they can be painful and lead women to worry. Hormonal birth control methods that stop your body from ovulating can prevent the formation of ovarian cysts, and some can reduce the formation of breast cysts as well.
5. Skipping Periods
Hormonal birth control allows you to control your period timing, and whether you get a period at all. You could choose a birth control pill that includes 24 active pills and just four inactive pills to shorten the length of your period. Another option is to take active pills for three months without any inactive pills, skipping up to three periods. If you have a big event coming up and you just don’t want to deal with a period or PMS symptoms, you can skip your placebo pills. If you use the birth control patch, simply apply a new patch for the fourth week of the month, instead of going patch-free for a week. If you use the birth control ring, leave it in for four weeks instead of three, then immediately replace it with a new ring.
Interested in using hormonal birth control to manage a specific health issue? A Nurx medical provider can help you determine which option might best accomplish your objectives. With the right method, you can enjoy these benefits as well as prevent pregnancy.
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