I think that the birth control pill generally gets a bad reputation. We see lots of commercials late at night touting all the bad things that can happen when you are taking them and who is to blame. When is the last time anyone told you the good things about the pill? As with any medication, there are risks associated with taking combination oral contraceptives, and there are also benefits that extend beyond the prevention of pregnancy.
There are many different combination birth control pills. They all have similar composition with estrogen and a type of progesterone. The progesterone component and the dose of hormone varies between pills and accounts for why some pills work better for some people than for others.
The pill is often prescribed for problems with menstruation. Taking birth control decreases the amount of blood lost each month and decreases cramps better than any other medication. It makes the menstrual cycle more predictable and more manageable for many women. Taking the pill continuously or using a 24 day pill is often used to treat PMS symptoms as well. Another problem for some women is menstrual migraines. These are often treated using a special formulation that adds back estrogen during a women’s period to decrease the frequency and severity of headaches.
Hormonal imbalances are also treated using the pill. The hormones in the pill lead to changes in the production of proteins in the blood that bind testosterone and other compounds. This change results in lowered effects from testosterone and decreases acne and dark hair growth some women have on their faces and chests.
Other uses for the pill include the treatment of gynecologic disorders, such as uterine fibroids and pelvic pain. Many women with endometriosis are treated successfully using the pill, as are women with recurrent ovarian cysts.
As with any medication you need to consider the benefits taking it compared to the risks. For many women with menstrual or gynecologic problems the pill remains a great resource.