6 Life Ailments That Birth Control Can Help Alleviate

6 Life Ailments That Birth Control Can Help Alleviate
Whether it’s pills, the patch, the shot, or an IUD, hormonal birth control is a great pregnancy prevention option. When you take it correctly, it can give you nearly perfect contraceptive protection. That’s great, but did you know birth control can do much more?

Even if you don’t need it to avoid getting pregnant, birth control offers help for lots of different health issues. By controlling your estrogen and progesterone levels, these contraceptives can reduce the impact of several conditions that might ail you. Read on to see how birth control might benefit you when it comes to these common health issues.

1. Acne

Face scrubs, antibiotics, or other cleansers might be your first thought if you’re dealing with acne. If your zits are severe, though, your hormones could be to blame. Estrogen and progesterone are strong, and they control your ovaries. If your hormone levels get out of whack, you could have serious breakouts.

Taking birth control can help control those hormone fluctuations. Pills that include both estrogen and progesterone can fight acne. However, combo pills that include both estrogen and progesterone work best. Just know it isn’t an overnight fix. It can take a few months to really clear up your skin. Once you do, though, you’ll likely see clearer skin for as long as you’re on birth control.

2. Anemia

With every period, you’re going to lose some amount of blood. If your periods are particularly heavy, though, this can be a health issue. The more blood you lose, the greater your risk for anemia. If you’re too low on red blood cells, your lungs may not efficiently get oxygen to the organs throughout your body. That can leave you feeling tired and weak.

Hormonal birth control can help by controlling how much you bleed with every cycle. You can opt to skip your period, avoiding blood loss altogether. Or, if you choose to have your period, it can make your bleeding lighter. Either way, you’ll have a lower risk for period-related anemia. You may even notice you’ll feel more energetic.

3. Cancer

You’re probably heard that hormonal birth control can raise your cancer risk. Don’t freak out just yet. In reality, it increases some risk and lowers others, particularly if you’re using an IUD or taking pills. You ovulate less with birth control, so your body is exposed to fewer hormones. That can cut your ovarian cancer risk by half. It’s a huge plus because that benefit can stick with you for decades. The same is true for endometrial cancer.

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It’s a somewhat different case for both breast and cervical cancer. Even though hormonal birth control boosts your risk a bit, it’s a temporary increase. Roughly five years after you stop taking it, your cancer risk returns to normal.

4. Endometriosis and Ovarian Cysts

If you have either of these conditions, you know how painful endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be. With endometriosis, bits of the uterine lining grow outside the uterus on nearby pelvic organs like ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even the intestines. Because it stays in your body, it can cause inflammation and significant pain. If you have PCOS, you may develop many painful ovarian cysts. The good news is that they aren’t dangerous.

Just as with anemia, hormonal birth control prevents ovulation so you can choose to skip your period. Less bleeding equals less pain. In addition, by keeping your hormone levels in check, it also keeps any ovarian cyst development at bay.

5. Mood Swings

Are there a few days every month where you just don’t feel like yourself? If so, you aren’t the only one. Millions of women go through premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or the more intense version—premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). You don’t have to give into feeling bad, though.

Most doctors agree the hormonal roller-coaster factors into PMS and PMDD. Birth control could help you deal with these symptoms. You’ll need to find the birth control option that works best for you, though. Right now, the FDA has approved only one pill (Yaz) to treat PMDD. Your doctor can help you find the best option for treating your other PMS symptoms.

6. Migraine

Millions of Americans suffer from migraines. If you’re one of them, hormonal birth control might be able to help. Just like PMS or acne, these super painful headaches are caused by the same annoying hormone fluctuations.

The pulsating pain characteristic of migraines is linked to estrogen and progesterone drop just before your period. If you take hormonal birth control pills, you can stop those levels from dipping too low. It could help you sidestep the throbbing discomfort that can make normal activities nearly impossible.

If you get migraines, though, be sure you discuss taking hormonal birth control with your doctor. Only your physician can tell you if it’s OK for you to take it. It’s possible that taking it could increase your risk for a stroke. If that’s the case, your doctor can help you find an alternative.

Hormonal birth control may be best known as an easily accessible, effective pregnancy prevention method. It can offer you much more than that, though. Talk to your doctor if you struggle with any of these other health ailments. They can help you find the right birth control option that could ease your symptoms.