Oral contraceptives - not just ‘the pill’

Good side effects of birth control

The pill is one of the most popular types of contraception. While it’s predominantly used to prevent pregnancy, the pill has lots of other benefits and can be used for a number of different reasons. 

 

Making your period easier 

Taking the pill regulates your menstrual cycle, eases period pain and makes your bleeding lighter. It also relieves the symptoms of PMS. The hormones in the pill stop you from ovulating, essentially replacing your natural cycle, keeping your hormone levels consistent. You can also use the pill to skip your period which can be useful for important events or holidays. 

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Treating acne

The combined pill has been proven as an effective method for treating acne. This is because changing levels of hormones are a major trigger for acne and spots. During your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels rise and fall- particularly during ovulation and just before your period. Taking the pill stops this from happening. However, the mini pill cannot be used for this purpose and can in some cases make your acne worse. 

 

Reduced risk of certain cancers 

Taking the pill can help to prevent you from ovarian, womb and colon cancer. In addition to this, it also makes you less likely to experience pelvic inflammatory disease and ovarian cysts. While this is a major benefit, taking the pill can increase your risk of breast cancer. 

 

Helps to treat endometriosis 

Endometriosis is a chronic condition which causes endometrial tissue to grow outside of the womb. This causes a lot of pain as the menstrual blood collected in these areas cannot go anywhere. The combined pill helps to regulate the condition as it prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg, therefore preventing the growth of the excess endometrial tissue. 

 

Helps to manage PCOS

Taking the pill can provide relief for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The condition causes irregular periods, acne and excessive hair growth in unwanted areas. The hormones in the pill can help to regulate your cycle, reduce the presence of cysts in the ovaries and reduce the appearance of hair and acne. 
 

The risks

While the pill provides a number of benefits, there are possible health risks associated with taking it. Taking the pill increases your risk of experiencing a blood clot, which can lead to serious medical problems. There is also a link between the pill and breast cancer. It’s important to make sure the pill is suitable for you to take before considering it as an option. The following groups are unable to safely take the pill: 

  • Women with breast cancer or a history of the illness 
  • Women with a blood clot of those who have previously experienced one
  • Women with high blood pressure or heart problems 
  • Smokers who are 35 or over 
  • Women with liver disease 
  • Women with diabetes where they’ve had complications 

The following medications can cause the pill to lose effectiveness: 

  • HIV treatments
  • Epilepsy treatments 
  • Rifampicin and rifabutin
  • St John’s wort

 

Sources

NHS> Combined pill: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/combined-contraceptive-pill/

Web MD> Birth Control: Benefits Beyond Pregnancy Prevention: https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/other-benefits-birth-control

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