Other Uses of Hormonal Birth Control

Dr. Rashmi Kudesia

While hormonal contraception (any method of birth control that emits hormones into the body) was invented for pregnancy protection, it has a number of other positive side effects. Some people start hormonal contraception for reasons completely unrelated to pregnancy. What might those reasons be? Read on.

1. Control or Stop Your Period: Hormonal birth control delivers a steady dose of synthetic hormones to your body, regulating your menstrual cycle. Besides making your period more punctual, hormonal birth control also functions to make your period lighter and less painful. A lot of women use the pill, patch, and ring to gain control over their period schedule and manage premenstrual symptoms. Hormonal birth control works to counteract abnormal periods, even in people suffering from amenorrhea (lack of periods), menorrhagia (heavy period bleeding), and PMS (premenstrual syndrome). If you want, it is completely medically safe to use your birth control to skip your period entirely. Just start a new pack of hormone pills during the week you’d usually take your placebo pills (but be sure to talk to your doctor first so you can get a prescription for the correct amount of pills, since you’ll use them up faster). If you’re using the patch or ring, just keep it in during the week you’d normally remove it for your period. Even the Depo-Provera shot and IUDs are known to lighten (and sometimes eliminate) periods. With birth control, periods are optional.

2. Help Reduce Acne: Acne, especially in women, is subject to the body’s natural hormonal shifts. Throughout the hormonal cycle, the body creates shifting amounts of estrogen and androgens (testosterone being the most well-known androgen hormone). Acne (especially on the chin and neck) occurs when these hormones are out of balance, particularly when androgen levels are higher than estrogen levels. Because hormonal birth control supplies a daily dose of estrogen (or progesterone), it regulates the hormonal cycle, preventing the unevenness of the body’s natural hormonal shifts (that result in pimples). For this reason, many people go on the pill, patch, and ring to treat their acne.

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3. Treat Endometriosis or Uterine Fibroids: Endometriosis is a condition that causes the uterine lining to grow outside of the uterus, and it can cause extremely painful periods. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors on or around the uterus that can also cause extremely painful periods. Both conditions can be helped by birth control, which lessens period pain and staves off further endometriosis or fibroid growth.

4. Treat PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) or POI (Primary Ovarian Insufficiency): Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) are both conditions that result from hormonal abnormalities. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that can cause acne, hair growth, and irregular periods. POI occurs when the ovaries cannot produce enough estrogen (often due to childhood chemotherapy or radiation, or genetic causes like Turner Syndrome). Both conditions and their resulting period abnormalities can be helped by hormonal birth control. Hormonal contraceptives counteract any hormone imbalance by providing a steady dose of estrogen and/or progesterone.

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