While the main purpose of the contraceptive pill is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, it can also be used for a number of other reasons. As one of the most popular forms of contraception, the birth control pill is used by millions of women worldwide, not just for contraceptive cover, but for its additional health benefits too. Let’s take a look at some of the different reasons why doctors may prescribe the pill:
Prevent acne and excess hair growth
If over-the-counter medicines have failed to work, the pill may be prescribed to treat acne. Pills that contain oestrogen help to clear your skin by decreasing levels of androgen, the hormone which produces oil and causes breakouts. Contraceptives that contain drospirenone, such as the Yasmin pill, are often recommended for women with acne as they work to suppress androgen production. The pill can also be used to treat excess hair growth (Hirsutism) in the same way. However, it is worth bearing in mind that it may take several months to see results.
Reduce the risk of health conditions
The pill can be used to protect women from pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids and ovarian cysts by regulating the hormonal imbalances that cause these conditions. It can also be used to lower the risk of cancer of the ovaries, colon and womb by minimising cell changes that are triggered by ovulation. Certain pills can also ease the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows in other pelvic areas, causing heavy, and often painful, periods. The pill prevents this from happening by lowering the levels of hormones that causes the buildup of tissue lining. As there is less menstrual bleeding when using the pill, it can also lower the risk of anemia.
Provide relief from Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The pill is also commonly used to treat the symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome. PMS can cause erratic mood changes, breast tenderness, depression and bloating. While the exact cause of PMS is uncertain, it is thought to be caused by the hormonal fluctuations that occur in the lead-up to a period. The pill can help to regulate these hormonal changes and improve the symptoms of PMS. However, it is worth noting that some pills may be more suited to treat different symptoms. Breast soreness for example, can be helped by pills that are low in oestrogen. Bloating on the other hand, can be treated by pills that contain drospirenone, a synthetic hormone that has been proven to help reduce fluid retention. Bear in mind that you may have to try a pill for a few months before deciding if it works for you.
The pill may also be prescribed to women who don’t have periods (amenorrhea). Stress, low weight, too much exercise or damage to the ovaries caused by chemotherapy can all cause a woman’s estrogen levels to drop. Birth control pills can replace this estrogen and help to regulate the menstrual cycle. For women whose periods are irregular, the contraceptive pill can help to steady the hormone level to make them more regular, lighter and less painful.