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Surprising Health Benefits of Birth Control

You may already know that birth control (when taken properly) offers a high degree of protection against unwanted pregnancy. You may not know that there are many other benefits of birth control, some of them may come as a surprise. From treating numerous hormone related issues to preventing painful symptoms, birth control is quite versatile and is prescribed to treat many ailments.

Even when not sexually active, women may benefit from taking the pill or another form of birth control. Birth control pills are still the most common type of birth control prescribed by doctors. These pills are a combination of the hormones progesterone and estrogen, and they prevent ovulation when taken correctly.

If taken at the same time each day, the hormone pill suppresses the signal from your brain to develop a follicle in your ovary. The uterine lining builds up and then will shed when there is no fertilized egg. That is when you get your period. During the time you're taking the pills, the uterine lining is stabilized and thus you'll have a more controlled, lighter, and less painful period.

There are many other forms of birth control, from patches to rings or shots. Each type contains different amounts and types of hormones. Depending on your personal circumstances and the ailments you need to resolve, your doctor may prescribe one type over another.

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10 PMS and PMDD

The change in hormones that triggers women to start their period affects women differently. Many women get irritable and tense in the time leading up to and perhaps even during their periods. The symptoms are known as premenstrual syndrome. PMS has a wide variety of symptoms which may include one or all of the following: mood swings, tender breasts, fatigue, irritability and even depression.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS which can be disabling for some women. PMDD causes extreme mood swings that can cause women to be unable to function properly at work or at home.

Doctors often have women affected by PMS and PMDD take birth control continuously which keeps them from having a period and experiencing the associated change of hormones.

9 Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a serious infection of the upper reproductive tract.  It is caused from bacteria from sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. It can affect fertility if left untreated. Birth control makes cervical mucus thicker and this thicker mucus makes it harder for pelvic inflammatory disease causing microbes to enter your cervix.

Keep in mind that condoms are the only form of birth control that protects against sexually transmitted disease. Condoms should be used unless you are in a monotonous relationship with someone free from disease. While birth control may help reduce the chances of bacteria reaching your cervix, it is definitely not fool proof. Be safe and responsible if you are sexually active.

8 Painful Periods

Cramps are common for all women during ovulation and periods. Most women can manage the symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Sometimes, however, these medicines just don't help. Birth control may be prescribed to prevent ovulation and lighten periods.

Intense cramping could point to a condition called dysmenorrhea. A chemical formed in the uterus that triggers muscle contractions causes the intense cramping. When birth control prevents ovulation, the uterus makes less of the chemical that causes the pain.

7 Irregular Periods

Some women have very irregular periods. Months may go by without a period. Sometimes there is no problem with irregular periods. It doesn't mean that there is anything amiss with your health. However it can be extremely inconvenient not knowing when your monthly gift will arrive so birth control may be an enticing solution.

Birth control is great for regulating a woman's cycle. It can make these same women go back to monthly periods. It is all about hormone regulation. The great part is that even once you stop taking the birth control, many women find that their periods will continue on a regular basis. This is great news for women who stop the pill in order to get pregnant.

6 PCOS

PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormonal imbalance. It can cause irregular or reduced periods, excessive hair growth, and acne in affected women. Birth control pills work for women with PCOS by lowering certain hormone levels which can help regulate menstrual periods. Once the hormone levels are back at normal levels, acne often goes away and hair growth decreases.

It can be difficult to conceive with PCOS. There are several fertility treatments available if you are trying to conceive with PCOS, but if you are not then birth control may be the way to go. Talk to your doctor to determine which type of birth control is the most effective at controlling PCOS.

5 Anemia

The amount of bleeding during periods varies from woman to woman. Some women bleed excessively during their monthly visit from Aunt Flow. Excessive blood loss can lead to anemia. Women suffering from anemia are often fatigued and weak.

Birth control makes periods shorter and lighter. Because of this, women lose less blood and anemia can be avoided in the women that bleed excessively. Because anemia affects your ability to function and work, birth control gives these women a chance to maintain their regular lives and routines.

4 ACNE

Acne is an awful thing to deal with as a teenager. High school is hard enough without having painful cysts all over your face. Acne is even tougher to deal with as an adult because you are out in the work force showing your face to other adults every day. If your acne is bad enough and nothing else works, your doctor may prescribe birth control. As many as 33% of teenage girls are taking birth control due to acne issues. It is effective and low cost.

Birth control lowers the body's level of testosterone. Yes, even women make small amounts of testosterone. The good news is that because birth control lowers the amount of testosterone production, acne is often kept at bay. Testosterone is the culprit for many acne breakouts.

3 Endometriosis

Endometriosis is no fun. Women who suffer from endometriosis have uterine tissue that has migrated out of their uterus and attached itself to their ovaries, fallopian tubes, or any other part of their pelvic cavity. The tissue continues to grow outside the uterus and sometimes requires surgery to remove. Endometriosis can hurt something awful as well as impede ovulation and fertility.

Being on birth control reduces uterine buildup and shedding which can slow or even stop the migration of uterine tissue. Birth control allows women suffering with endometriosis to wait longer before trying to get pregnant. It also minimizes the devastating pain that can come with endometriosis.

2 Migraines

Many women get migraine headaches before or during their menstrual period. Yup - you guessed it. Those hormones are to blame again. Changing levels of estrogen or progesterone can cause headaches and migraines.

Migraines are more common in a woman's reproductive years. The female sex hormone which regulates the menstrual cycle is often a significant migraine trigger for women.

Migraines can be quite debilitating. There are several migraine medicines available, but if the migraine is related to a woman's cycle they may not be effective. Doctors may prescribe continuous birth control to women affected by these migraines to maintain hormone levels steady.

1 Cancer

Women on the pill or other estrogen-progestin birth control for fifteen years or more reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers by half! Because birth control blocks ovulation and evens out hormonal imbalances, women are exposed less to potentially damaging hormones. Each year that you take birth control, you lower your risks of these types of cancer.

If you have a family history of either ovarian or endometrial cancer, talk to your doctor about birth control use. It may help prevent you from getting the same cancer. There are other factors that may help too including a healthy diet and exercise regime. Your doctor will be able to help you determine the best path forward.

Sources: MayoClinic , WebMD , WhattoExpect

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