My new patient J. came into my office with her mother last week to discuss her awful periods. She's 13, and has been to the emergency room several times (and missed over a week of school this year) because of heavy bleeding and disabling pain. I was excited about offering J. the birth control pill--I don't often have the chance to greatly improve someone's life with a simple prescription. But her mother resisted, because when she was young, "only bad girls went on the Pill that young." Forty-five minutes of conversation later, J.'s mother promised to think about it.

This encounter was a reminder that the birth control pill has a bad name. Sure, it's contraceptive power is fantastic (97 percent effective when used perfectly). But it's so much more than that:

  • The anti-anemia pill. You'll bleed less heavily and for fewer days each month.
  • The anti-cramp pill. You'll need less ibuprofen...and maybe none at all.
  • The pro-clear-skin pill. Dermatologists recommend the pill to help control acne.
  • The anti-hair-in-the-wrong-places pill. Meaning less hair growth on your face. 
  • The cyst-reduction pill. You'll reduce the chances of benign ovarian and breast cysts.
  • The cancer prevention pill. Reduce your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer by 50-80 percent.
  • The mood stabilizer pill. The pill can work wonders in some women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • The bone strengthening pill. Studies indicate that use of the pill can help ward off osteoporosis.
  • The pro-fertility pill. The pill provides some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a major cause of infertility.

Do any of you take the "birth control" pill for non-birth-control reasons?



8 Comments

Bee said:

When I was in high school, I had horribly irregular, heavy, painful periods, in addition to really bad acne. My mom knew what the pill could do for me, but my dad didn't want me on it for reasons similar to the ones that made the mother in your story hesitant. It took a while, but eventually my dad either caved, or my mom just didn't tell him, and I started taking the pill. My periods got better, my skin cleared up entirely, and as a nice bonus I went up two cup-sizes :) I also didn't just go out and start having sex... the contraceptive part of the pill simply made me feel more confident and safe when I did eventually decide that I was ready to have sex (with condoms, of course!).

VerseFameBeauty said:

I had the same issue when I was younger, and my mom said it was "totally inappropriate" for a girl my age (12-17) to go on the Pill (until I moved out to go to college at 17 and got on it on my own dime). I had debilitating cramps and long (sometimes more than two weeks), heavy periods until I finally went on the Pill!

Kate said:

Do other hormonal methods of birth control, like NuvaRing, have these same benefits?

Tiffany said:

I take a progesterone-only birth control pill that has virtually eliminated the migraines I suffered from for years. I've decided that even if my relationship ends and I no longer need it for birth control, I will continue taking it for this happy side effect alone.

Jamie said:

I do!

I'm a male to female transsexual and for the first two-and-change years of my transition I took Diane 35 as my primary form of HRT.

I currently take an injectable estrogen, but when my supply runs out, I will likely go back to oral; I bruise too easily, and having the injection sites take months, sometimes, to heal just isn't working for me.

I

Dr. Kate said:

Kate, we think that the ring and the patch have the same benefits, because they work the same way...long term studies in progress will tell for sure.

Beth said:

I was on the pill for three years before I was sexually active. I started my period on the later end and when I did it was very similar to what you're describing with your patient. When it got to the point where my mom was giving me warm brandy to try to ease the cramping pains we both realized it was stupid and I went on the pill.

Now I'm on Depo and I've been on some form of BC ever since, there is really no need to spend three days a month in the fetal position if you don't need to.

Yasmine said:

I recently asked my mom to go to the Gynecologist to get checked up,and after an hour of talking about sex and things of that sort she asked me about the pill and if I wanted. I said yes because just like the last post,I have horrible cramps and Midol does nothing for me,bad acne during my period and I just wanted to feel safer when I did want to have sex. To make the story short,my mom found out about it and took it all away and told me I was crazy. At 14,yes it may sound a little too soon for thinking about sex but that's not the deal at all. So one of my friends started giving me packs of her pills that I did some research on and it said something weight gain. I'm not sure if it's for everyone or just a side effect on certain people. How much weight can usually be gained and what are the chances of that happening?

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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City.

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