From mood swings and headaches to breast tenderness, we’ve all heard horror stories about the contraceptive pill. As such, it’s easy to overlook the potential, lesser-known benefits. In reality, oral contraceptives have been used safely and successfully for decades, and in more recent years, the pill has evolved to contain newer and lower levels of hormones.
In turn, this means fewer side effects. It is also worth stating that most side effects are temporary and should last no longer than a few months.
Besides the obvious benefits of providing a safe and convenient method of birth control, the contraceptive pill has several unexpected and favourable side effects that many women are unaware of.
Although the primary purpose of the birth control pill is to prevent unintended pregnancies, who’s to say that you can’t take into account the non-contraceptive pros when contemplating which pill is most suitable for you?
1. The pill can reduce the risk of major health conditions
The pill works by decreasing the number of ovulations a woman experiences in her lifetime, and research has suggested that this decrease in activity can have protective effects against certain life-threatening medical conditions, including uterine and ovarian cancer. The pill has also been proven to reduce the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts and fibroid tumours.
2. The pill can be used as a treatment for acne and hirsutism
All women make small amounts of male hormones in their ovaries, called androgens. However, high levels of these male hormones can lead to bothersome conditions such as acne and excessive hair growth (known as hirsutism).
There’s no denying that most of us have felt self-conscious about a spotty complexion at one point or another, but did you know that the pill could help? Birth control pills containing both estrogen and progesterone reduce the amount of androgens (the group of hormones responsible for producing pore-clogging sebum) in the body. The contraceptive pill can offer an effective solution to your unwanted blemishes and help to restore your sense of self-confidence by regulating this hormonal imbalance.
The combined contraceptive pill is also used to successfully reduce abnormal hair growth on women’s faces and bodies. Hirsutism is not uncommon, but can have a significant negative impact on a woman’s self-confidence. In the same way that it treats acne, the combined pill reduces excessive hair growth by suppressing the production of male hormones in the body.
3. The pill can enhance your mood
Most women have experienced dips or swings in mood when it comes to that time of the month. However, for some women, feelings of anger, anxiety and depression can get out of control - a condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Suppressing ovulation with the pill can not only help
to alleviate the physical symptoms that occur a few days before a menstrual cycle, but can also keep emotional effects under control. Combined pills are particularly effective at reducing the hormone-related side effects associated with the menstruation cycle, including unexplained mood swings, depression and stress.
4. The pill can improve period symptoms
Whilst it is common knowledge that the pill can make your periods lighter and more regular, certain oral contraceptives can also effectively target symptoms that you may not even realise will be linked to your period. Combination pills such as Microgynon can help to stave off the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including cramps, bloating, hot flushes and migraines.
5. The pill can reduce the risk of anaemia
It is common for women who are going through their monthly menstrual cycle to suffer from feelings of weakness and fatigue due to a medical condition known as anaemia. Some contraceptive pills can curb the risk of developing this iron deficiency (which is caused by heavy periods) by regulating the amount of bleeding.
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