Here’s What Birth Control Does — And Doesn’t— Protect You From
Okay, so you know that your birth control prevents pregnancy when you take it every day (and you’re taking it at the same time every day too, right? Right). Having your BC be part of your daily routine may lull you into a sense of security that you’re in the clear and protected against everything that comes from having sex.
But, it’s important to remember exactly what birth control does and does not protect you from. Here’s a quick refresher about what the birth control pill actually prevents (and psst, it IS more than just pregnancy), and what it does *not* protect against.
How does birth control work?
Birth control is what’s known as a short-term hormonal contraceptive that’s taken orally, which means it contains human-made hormones (estrogen and/or progestin) that stop you from getting pregnant. When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective. Taking the pill correctly means taking it daily at the same time, so the hormones within the pill are released into your body continuously. The pill isn’t a barrier method, like a condom, which creates a physical barrier between fluid and skin contact between you and your partner. It’s similar to the patch and the ring, which also deliver low doses of hormones that prevent pregnancy.
What DOES the birth control pill prevent?
Yup, you already knew it. The birth control pill prevents pregnancy. Reminder: the pill inhibits pregnancy in a few different ways. It prevents ovulation, so your eggs aren’t released from your ovaries. The hormones in the pill also thicken cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to break through en route to finding an egg to fertilize. Finally, taking the pill thins out the lining of your uterus, which makes your uterus less hospitable to a fertilized egg.
So, all that is to say, the pill is very, very effective at preventing pregnancy (again, that’s when taken correctly). That’s its sole job, and the pill does that job damn well. However, the pill does have a few more tricks up its sleeve that you might not have known about.
For example, the pill has been known to help prevent hormonal acne, and to help regulate periods and relieve symptoms of endometriosis. If you have really heavy, uncomfortable periods, taking the pill can help regulate your hormones and ease your symptoms.
The pill may also prevent or lessen bone thinning, cysts in breasts and ovaries, and endometrial or ovarian cancers. Finally, the pill has also been associated with the prevention of anemia and infections in your reproductive organs. Not bad for such a tiny little thing, right?
What birth control doesn’t protect you from
The biggest gap in birth control’s protective shield is sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Because the pill is taken orally, it doesn’t provide any physical protection against STDs like herpes or gonorrhea. And don’t forget, STDs and STIs aren’t only transmitted through vaginal sex; they can be transmitted through oral or anal sex. So your best best to lower your risk of STIs is to use an external or internal condom—you can use a condom on its own, or with the pill for extra protection against pregnancy.
Luckily, when you’re a SimpleHealth patient, it’s easy to add a request for internal condoms to your monthly birth control delivery with our Complete Care initiative. Learn more when you schedule your free consultation with our team of experts.
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