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What are the benefits of birth control pills in addition to contraception?

What are the benefits of birth control pills in addition to contraception?

Last Reviewed : 12/17/2020
What are the benefits of birth control pills in addition to contraception?

The hormonal contraceptives or birth control pills are well-established contraceptives. They are also considered important medication for many functional or organic disturbances in the female reproductive system. Understanding the other beneficial effects of these pills has allowed them to be used for various conditions. Besides having a high contraceptive efficacy, they also have shown high efficacy for non-contraceptive benefits.

Various clinical conditions where the use of oral contraceptive pills has shown benefit include:

Menstrual bleeding disorders:

Hormonal pills regulate the cyclical tide of hormones during the menstrual cycle. They help in controlling fluctuations in the hormones. They are used in the disorders of the frequencyof menstrual cycles and bleeding such as irregular or heavy bleeding. The pills decrease blood loss during menstruation and thereby help in dealing with consequent anemia caused by such blood loss. The pills also aid in managing pain and help increase the quality of life caused by these conditions.

Painful menstruation:

Dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation is one of the reasons for which women continue to take hormonal pills. Dysmenorrhea can be severe enough to cause a declinein the physical quality of life for women. Many women might even withdraw or take leave from work due to pain. Hormonal contraceptives act by preventing ovulation during the menstrual cycle. Such cycles where ovulation does not take place are easier to deal with and do not cause cramps and menstrual pain.

Acne and unwanted hair:

Hormonal fluctuations and excessive androgens can cause problems like acne, or growth of unwanted facial hair. Oral contraceptive pills decrease the overall effect of these male hormones or androgens. Hormonal contraceptives decrease the secretion of androgens and also decrease their availability in the blood that causesnegative effects on hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Newer kinds of hormonal contraceptives are also available that specifically target these androgens, thereby significantly reducing acne and hair growth.

Premenstrual syndrome:

Some women experience a varied amount of emotional and physical symptoms in days leading up to their period called "premenstrual syndrome." Women may feel symptoms like bloating, acne, weight gain, breast soreness, mood swings, andirritation. Hormonal pills have shown benefit in decreasing these symptoms. They have also been approved for a severe form of this syndrome called "premenstrual dysphoric disorder," which causes severe depression, irritability, and tension.

Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome:

Use of hormonal contraceptives has been associated with normalization of the size and structure of ovaries in women with PCOS. A significant decrease in the size of follicles or cysts in the ovary has also been shownwith the useof hormonal contraceptives. This favourable effect produced by the pills has been shown to continue to some extent even after the treatment is stopped.

Endometriosis and adenomyosis:

Endometriosis is a painful condition where the uterine lining is foundin places other than the uterus. The normal lining of the uterus is under the influence of hormones and bleeds during menstruation. Abnormally placed tissue in endometriosis also bleeds in the presence of menstrual hormones but has no outlet which causes pain and inflammation. Though other treatments are also available, hormonal contraceptives are the most economicaloption with a great benefit in relieving pain and other symptoms. Similarly, symptoms related to adenomyosis and other conditions like uterine myomas and pelvic inflammatory disease are also relieved with the use of hormonal contraceptives.

Menstrual migraine:

Headaches during menstruation are triggered due to hormonal changes in the body. Continuous oral contraceptive pills prevent ovulation and maintain a steady level of hormones in the body. This action helps in decreasing symptoms of menstrual migraine.

Benign breast disease:

Oral contraceptive pills have been proven effective in decreasing the risk of developing benign breast disease. Longer duration of the use of hormonal contraceptives is associated with a much lower risk of breast diseases like fibroadenoma, and fibrocystic breast disease.

Cancers:

Birth control pills have a paradoxical effect on cancer. While increasing the risk of developing some cancers, birth control pills also prevent the development of other cancers. The most significant advantage ofhormonal contraceptives is the lowered risk of developing ovarian cancer. Decreased risk of ovarian cancer is thought to be due to the action of hormonal contraceptives on ovulation suppression. This beneficial effect on ovarian cancer is seenwith the use of combined hormonal contraceptives for sixmonths. Risk reduction is also seenamong women with endometriosis, who are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer than the rest.

Combined oral contraceptive pills also have a significant reduction inthe risk of developing endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer.

Hormonal contraceptives have a multitude of benefits, butthere are some adverse effects that you might need to consider before starting the pills. Oral hormonal pills increase the risk of the formation of blood clots in the venous system and also the risk of developing high blood pressure. They may even cause emotional and psychological symptoms. Though contraceptive pills can prevent pregnancy, they cannot protect against sexually transmitted infections and hence, the use of a barrier method is advised.

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