As most of us know, contraception was invented for preventing unwanted pregnancy. There are 2 categories of contraception: Hormonal and Non-hormonal methods. In this article, we will focus mainly on hormonal contraception and its benefits besides preventing pregnancy. Hormonal birth control includes oral pills, Intrauterine devices, Implanon, and patches.
Benefits of Hormonal Contraception:
- Helps regulate the menstrual cycle.
Hormonal fluctuations are common during a woman’s cycle. However for some, these hormonal fluctuations cause a variety of problems such as irregular and heavy bleeding. Some women suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) due to hormonal imbalance. These are all able to be treated by various methods of hormonal contraception. It can even help acne and excess hair symptoms from PCOS. Hormonal contraception can help regulate menses and reduce period blood flow.
- Helps reduce pain during menses
Hormonal birth control works by preventing ovulation. When women do not ovulate, painful contractions that cause cramps during ovulation are inhibited. Besides that, hormonal contraception provides pain relief during menstruation as it can reduce the amount of blood flow during menses as well. Based on research done by Guttmacher Institute, Rachel K.Jones 2011– reported that> 30% of women experience lesser pain when on oral contraceptive pills.
- Helps treat hormonal acne
Acne triggers especially in adolescent women are likely due to hormonal fluctuations and are the worst at this age. Hormonal birth control can help stabilize the hormones and as a result, reduce acne flares. Birth control pills that contain progesterone and estrogen are the most effective in combating hormonal acne.
- Helps reduce the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.
Women who are on long-term hormonal birth control pills are 50% less likely to get uterine cancer. Despite stopping the pill, the protective effect of hormonal birth control can last up to 20 years after you have stopped. Risks for ovarian cancer are a benefit as well.
- Helps reduce the risk of ovarian cyst
Cysts are small, fluid-filled sacs that form in the ovaries during ovulation. Ovarian cysts are benign and not dangerous, however can sometimes cause abdominal pain or unexplained pain during menses. Hormonal birth control is able to prevent this because it helps prevent ovulation, as a result stopping the formation of cysts. No regrowth of prior cysts is noted with hormonal birth growth as well.
- Helps relieve symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual syndrome is the mixture of physical and emotional symptoms that happens weeks or days prior to their period. This is due to hormonal fluctuations.
Hormonal birth control is an option in the treatment of PMDD which is a more severe form of PMS. It is difficult to treat and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved YAZ birth control pill for the treatment of this. YAZ is a combination pill containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol.
Most patients will need to test which hormonal birth control method best suits them as they each contain a variety of doses and combinations of hormones.
- Helps manage Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a very painful condition. The tissue lining the uterus, called endometrium, grows out of the uterus and as a result, bleeds from wherever it is located causing severe pain during menstruation. Hormonal birth control helps patients because it prevents ovulation which in return skips the period and prevents pain.
- Helps treat menstrual migraines
75% of migraine cases are likely suffered by women. A migraine is a severe form of headache. This is due to hormonal changes that trigger migraines. A drop in estrogen and progesterone levels just before menses triggers migraines. Hormonal birth control helps stop periods and as a result, prevents migraines from happening.
- Helps reduce the risk of anemia
For women who experience heavy bleeding during their periods, this puts them at a risk for developing anemia. Anemia is when there is a lack of red blood cells to transport oxygen efficiently in your body, which causes weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, a pale skin tone and reduced effort tolerance for daily activities. Hormonal contraception allows patients to skip their period and can prevent menses-related anemia.
- Helps give you the freedom to bleed on your terms
Hormonal contraception such as IUDs, rings, and patches help women skip their period altogether.
Birth control pills however come with a week of placebo effect pills, during which that time most women get their periods. If you wish to skip your period that month due to a vacation or event, then patients can continue starting their new pack of birth control pills immediately. Always consult your doctor if you are unsure of this.
Hormonal contraception does have its risks and other side effects. Women over the age of 35 and who smoke are at higher risk of blood clots when taking oral contraceptive pills. Other types of contraception such as combination pills and the patch, increase your risk of blood clots and high blood pressure, even in non-smokers.
Some women also experience physical and emotional disturbances with hormonal birth control. It is a matter or trial and error to see which option will suit you best. Be sure to inform your doctor regarding any prior side effects you have experienced with a specific type of contraception.
Hormonal contraception also does not protect women against sexually transmitted diseases. Unless you are in a monogamous relationship and STD testing has been done by both partners, condom is still a must during sexual intercourse.
Feel free to consult a doctor to know more about various contraception methods and their benefits or risks for you.