Oral contraceptive pills or “pills” contain the hormones estrogen and progestin that mimic the hormones women naturally produce. These hormones do a couple of things to ensure that pregnancy is not going to happen: they stop the ovaries from producing eggs for ovulation so that there’s no egg for the sperm to fertilize; they make the lining of the uterus thin enough to make it incapable of housing a fertilized egg, and; they thicken the cervical mucus to stop the sperm from passing through.
The benefits of oral contraceptive pills go beyond preventing pregnancy. There is also a percentage of women who take pills not just as a contraceptive method but to address menstrual issues or hormonal imbalances. If you take them consistently and properly, you’ll be able to reap these benefits, too.
Regulates the Menstrual Cycle
The estrogen and progestin present in pills help in balancing hormonal fluctuations (which cause irregular menstruation, heavy bleeding, and pesky symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS). The pills are able to reinforce the natural production of these hormones and make up for their imbalances so that their monthly menstrual bleeding become more regular and predictable.
Alleviates Menstrual Cramps
Women who take pills have lesser chances of experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding because of how the progestin is able to make the uterus lining thinner. Painful contractions and cramps will less likely be experienced when menstrual bleeding is lighter.
Reduces Risk of Anemia
Heavy menstruation can cause iron-deficiency anemia in women because of too much blood discharged during menstrual bleeding. Lighter menstrual bleeding can decrease the risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
Reduces Acne and Unwanted Hair
Women naturally produce a small amount of androgen, a male hormone, in their bodies. Excessive levels of androgen produced, or sensitivity to the androgen may result in unwanted hair growing in different parts of your body such as above the lip, below the chin, between the breasts, below the belly button, or on the inner thighs.
Pills help in balancing hormones, including the levels of androgen produced by the ovaries. Proper and continuous use of pills may control the growth of unwanted hair, and reduce the pesky acne.
Relieves PMS and PMDD Symptoms
Women often experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) weeks or days before menstrual bleeding. Symptoms of PMS may include cramps, food cravings, breast tenderness, acne, bloating, moodiness, and fatigue; but for women who have PMDD, there are more physical and emotional symptoms, and these symptoms may often get in the way of daily activities.
Although doctors are still finding out what exactly causes PMS and PMDD, women who are on the pills have reported that symptoms have been relieved when they started taking the pills. Could PMS and PMDD be caused by the hormonal fluctuations? Perhaps, but it’s best to consult a doctor, especially when these symptoms have become bothersome.
Helps manage Ovarian Cysts
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition wherein imbalances in the hormones result in irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne, and ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts may cause pain, bloating, or swelling, which can be uncomfortable for women. Pills can balance out the hormones that the body produces, and reduce the chances of ovaries from growing more cysts, or former cysts from regrowing.
Helps manages Endometriosis
Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside it. The endometrium will bleed during menstruation no matter where it is located, and it will cause pain and discomfort especially when it’s situated in a place where it’s difficult for blood to get out of the body.
Pills are not the ultimate solution for endometriosis, but they can help in relieving the pain and discomfort. The progestin present in pills thins the lining of the uterus, and makes bleeding lesser.
Reduces Risk for Ovarian Cancer and Endometrial Cancer
There are researches that have shown that women who are using, or have used pills may have lower risks for developing certain types of cancer.
The pills make the endometrium thinner by controlling the endometrial cells. This curbs the production of excess endometrium in places where it shouldn’t be. Thus, women who take pills may have less chances of developing endometrial cancer.
Pills can also control the number of times a woman ovulates, which reduces the exposure of the ovaries to naturally-produced female hormones. Researchers suspect that this could also be a possible reason for the lower cases of ovarian cancer among women who use or have used pills, compared to women who never used pills.
These benefits of taking pills may look tempting, but there are also a lot of things you need to consider before taking them. The best thing to do is to pay your healthcare provider a visit, and consult them whether you’re good to go popping pills.