Most women use birth control to prevent pregnancy. After all, that’s kind of the point. But what you may not know is that for some birth control methods, that’s not the only point they score.
Doctors prescribe medications for their patients to prevent or treat the issues they are intended to address. However, sometimes they notice some unintended consequences. Over time, researchers begin to study why. If they find sufficient proof, those medications may tout the additional benefits as well.
Such is the case with various forms of birth control. Designed to prevent pregnancy, some are also prescribed to help with other conditions. It’s like getting a bigger bang for your pregnancy prevention buck.
The key is knowing which health conditions may benefit from birth control and which types of birth control can deliver them. Here are five issues other than pregnancy prevention you might find that birth control can treat.
1. Menstrual Cramps and Heavy Flow
The medical term for frequent and severe cramps during your period is “dysmenorrhea.” Whatever it’s called, if you suffer from them, you will appreciate contraception that will knock them back. So, too, if your flow is heavy, causing you to blow through tampons and pads.
Pregnancy, of course, will stop cramps and lighten blood flow. But since that’s what you’re trying to avoid, use contraception like Junel Fe birth control. Junel Fe and other methods with sufficient amounts of estrogen, including certain birth control pills, hormonal IUDs, and the Depo-Provera shot, may provide relief. No cramps and saving money on period products while avoiding pregnancy is a win win.
2. Irregular Periods
Let’s face it. Periods can be pretty inconvenient. But they’re never more so than when they crop up when you least expect it or don’t show up when they should. If you’re a victim of irregular periods, you probably drag around tampons, pads, and a change of clothes wherever you go. Or worse, you reach for a pregnancy test every time your period is a no-show.
There are many potential causes of irregular periods, from uterine fibroids and polycystic ovary syndrome (POCS) to bleeding and thyroid disorders. If you stop taking birth control pills, you may have an erratic cycle for a while. But hormonal birth control may put you on a regular schedule. The combination of estrogen and progestin keeps you from ovulating and protects the lining of the uterus, which regulates your cycle.
Predictability can be a negative personality trait. But when it comes to your menstrual cycle, it’s definitely a positive attribute. It’s OK to be unsurprising.
3. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) cover a wide swath of issues. Unfortunately, 75% of menstruating women have experienced one or more signs of PMS. If you are one of them, you certainly aren’t alone.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is essentially PMS on steroids. The indicators are the same but reach an extreme where they are debilitating. Symptoms include food cravings, fatigue, depression, mood swings, headache, joint pain, breast tenderness, bloating, concentration issues, and more. And they begin up to 14 days before the inconvenient period even begins.
PMS and PMDD are caused by ovulation-related hormonal changes. Hormonal birth control pills prevent ovulation, which is why they may also prevent PMS and PMDD symptoms. In fact, the Yaz birth control pill is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of these disorders. The right birth control pill can work wonders in more ways than one.
4. Hormonal Acne
Acne occurs when your pores are clogged. If your hormonal activity produces a surplus of oils, those oils will trap more dead skin cells and dirt and clog your pores. And while topical acne treatments may help, the root cause for this acne lies within.
Some hormonal birth control pills control the production of androgens, which are the hormones that overproduce sebaceous oils. The estrogen-progestin combination oral contraception Yaz, Ortho-Tri-Cyclen, and Estrostep, are FDA-approved for hormonal acne treatment. But other combination pills have demonstrated that they’re effective therapies for acne as well.
When it comes to hormonal acne, fighting hormones with hormones might be the path to better skin. No bumps on your face or your belly may be just what the dermatologist and the gynecologist ordered.
5. Ectopic Pregnancy
When a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, the diagnosis is ectopic pregnancy. These pregnancies are not viable. And if the fallopian tube ruptures, major internal bleeding will likely occur.
Although ectopic pregnancy occurs in only 2% of all pregnancies, they can be deadly for the mother. Anything women can do to reduce their risk of having one is a step worth taking. Long-term research shows that hormonal birth control containing estrogen significantly reduces a woman’s risk of ectopic pregnancy. You should also know that getting pregnant while using an intrauterine device (IUD) is rare. But if you do conceive, there’s an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Talk to your provider about the risks and choose the safest option.
Prevention With a Cure
The primary job for birth control is to prevent pregnancy, which is reason enough to take it. But if you suffer the symptoms of certain other health-related issues, the right birth control can help address those as well. If you’re interested in a buy-one-get-one proposition, talk to your healthcare provider about prevention with a cure.