Yes, birth control can help reduce the pain associated with menstrual cramps. In fact, some medical providers put women who experience severe menstrual cramps on birth control as a way to treat the pain.
How Cramps Occur
During your period, you might experience the throbbing feeling of cramps in your lower abdomen. These are the muscles in your uterus tightening and then releasing in response to prostaglandins to shed your built-up uterine lining. Cramping typically starts a day or two before your period and goes away after a few days.
How Birth Control Can Help
Hormonal birth control pills can reduce cramping during your period by:
- Suppressing ovulation.
- Reducing the amount of uterine lining your body must shed, resulting in a lighter period.
- Reducing prostaglandin production.
Forms of birth control that reduce the number of periods you have or allow you to skip your period altogether also prevent the uterine lining from shedding and its associated cramps. These types of birth control include:
- Hormonal intrauterine devices.
- Continuous use birth control pills.
- The birth control shot.
These birth control methods help lighten and shorten periods to the point some women stop getting them.
Additional Ways to Relieve Cramps
If you still need relief from period pain, you might try these other treatments:
- Applying heat, such as a heating pad, to your abdomen.
- Taking a hot bath.
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
If your menstrual cramps are severe even on birth control, you spike a fever, or you experience cramping when you’re not on or about to get your period, you might want to contact your medical provider to make sure the cramping isn’t a sign of something else.
Other Positive Side Effects of Birth Control
In addition to reducing the number and severity of cramps, birth control offers advantages such as:
- Lighter periods.
- Less acne.
- Preventing pregnancy without affecting fertility.