It’s no secret that birth control changed women’s lives forever. But people take birth control for reasons other than putting the kibosh on babymaking.
So let’s take a moment to appreciate its other benefits.
Heavy bleeder? Irregular periods? Since birth control pills help balance your hormones throughout your cycle, they can help get wacky periods back on track.
Birth control can be especially helpful for folks with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can cause irregular flows, excess hair growth, and hormonal acne.
Good news for pill-averse peeps: Most hormonal birth control methods (including devices) can help get your cycle on a predictable schedule.
If you have periods, maybe you grew up thinking the only things certain in life were death, taxes, and a monthly mess of blood.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
How to skip your period with BC pills
Most birth control pill packs come with placebo pills to take during that time of the month.
The placebos are just blanks, so you can skip them from time to time to avoid bleeding during vacay or when you’ve got a hot date in town.
Since prescriptions vary, check to make sure you have a pack that won’t mess up your hormone levels if you skip the last week.
How to skip your period with a ring, patch, or IUD
This one depends on your birth control method of choice. Maybe you don’t get periods with your birth control anyway. Or maybe you get a period only once every 3 months.
Check the packaging — or, better yet, ring up your doctor — to find out how to skip a month with your specific method of birth control.
Sick of period pain? BC’s got your back (and your pelvis). About one-third of women who take birth control pills say they do it to reduce cramps.
Hormonal birth control pills work by preventing ovulation, the part of your cycle when your ovaries release an egg to go find the nearest sperm.
So, in addition to providing some relief from menstrual pain, birth control pills could eliminate the midcycle pangs some people get when their uterus contracts during ovulation.
Sometimes hormone imbalances can lead to unwanted facial hair or excess body hair. This is a common symptom of PCOS, which causes high levels of androgen, a male hormone.
Birth control pills are one of the most common treatments for excessive hair growth. Why? Because the pills often lower androgen levels while regulating estrogen and progesterone.
Ah, acne: It’s not just for teenagers. Adult-onset acne can be triggered by everything from cakey makeup to, yep, hormones.
Since birth control pills regulate hormones, they also tame hormonal breakouts. Your best bet for a BC-influenced glow is a combination pill containing both estrogen and progesterone.
Most women focus on their current health status when weighing birth control methods. But these hormonal meds can be good for your future self too.
Women who take birth control pills are at least 30 percent less likely to get endometrial cancer — and the risk lessens more and more with long-term birth control use.
People on birth control pills are also less likely to develop ovarian, colorectal, and ovarian cancers.
If you usually have to change your tampons every hour or if your [menstrual] cup runneth over, you probably have a high risk of anemia.
When you’re anemic, you don’t have enough red blood cells to properly distribute oxygen throughout your body. This can cause weakness, dizziness, and extreme fatigue.
Since birth control gives you more control over your periods — even letting you skip ’em from time to time — the pill can also help with period-related anemia.
With endometriosis, uterine lining tissue starts to grow outside your uterus, often in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other abdominal spots.
It’s hella painful and causes inconvenient bleeding and inflammation.
Since hormonal birth control helps you skip your period — and that whole uterine lining phase — pills and IUDs can be super helpful for people with endometriosis.
These tiny sacs of fluid (though they can be solid on occasion) pop up on ovaries for a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes is PCOS.
Ovarian cysts aren’t usually cause for concern, but big ones can be super painful. Birth control helps prevent cysts by preventing ovulation.
If you’re one of the 22 million or so American women who experience migraine, you know the pain can be triggered by almost anything: the weather, certain smells, bright lights — and, yes, hormones.
Medical experts say period migraine could be triggered by the rapid drop in estrogen just before your flow begins. So when you use birth control to skip a period, you could also skip the hormonal migraine triggers. #winning
Birth control pills are helpful for migraine episodes without auras but may not be effective for other types of migraine.
Talk to your doctor to find out if BC pills are an appropriate treatment option for you.
The FDA has approved one birth control pill — Yaz, which is a combo pill containing drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol — to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This condition can cause major depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, and other physical symptoms.
Whether you want to skip your ride on the PMS struggle bus or curb the severe depression of PMDD, birth control can help.
Just remember that each type of birth control contains a different dose and combo of hormones, so you might need to try a few before you find one that works for you.
This list has been all about the noncontraceptive benefits of birth control. But can we circle back to BC’s purpose for a minute?
Hormonal birth control is just straight-up convenient. There’s no frantic scavenge for a condom, no sweat over remembering to pull out, and no question that your bases are covered. However, different devices take different amounts of time to work – get familiar here.
With an implant like an IUD, you can “set it and forget it” for years. And daily birth control pills are a convenient way to take control of your health and avoid pregnancy.
Good question! Hormonal birth control isn’t for everyone. Make sure you’re transparent about allll your health habits and history with your doctor so they can recommend the best contraception for you.
Some risks to consider:
- If you’re older than 35 and smoke on the reg, birth control increases your risk of blood clots and high blood pressure.
- If you’ve had serious heart problems, super high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, blood clots, or breast cancer, you’ll want to avoid certain birth control pills. (Talk to your doctor for details.)
- Combination pills and the patch tend to increase everyone’s risk of blood clots and high blood pressure.
- Regardless of health history, some folks experience serious birth control side effects like joint pain or hallucinations.
Talk to your doctor stat if you think you’re having an unusual reaction to a new form of birth control.
PSA (📢 louder for the people in the back!): Birth control does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The best way to avoid STIs is to use a condom or another barrier method any time you get down with a new partner — or any partner you’re not 100 percent sure has been tested recently.
Whether you’re looking for convenient contraception, a regulated flow, or relief from severe period cramps, your doctor can help you decide which birth control is right for you.
To get the best recommendation for your body and lifestyle, remember to share with your doctor:
- your complete health history, including whether you smoke
- a list of meds you already take
- your likelihood of being able to take a pill at the same time every day
- any hopes or plans to get pregnant soon
If cost is a concern, check out Bedsider. It’s a nonprofit that offers an online tool to help you find free or affordable birth control in your area.