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Shocking Uses of Birth Control Pills: Could You Benefit?

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birth control pills Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Studies are constantly conducted to determine the benefits and drawbacks of contraceptive pills, and each usually yields a different outcome. What everyone can agree on, though, is that birth control pills can be used for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with pregnancy prevention.

Doctors prescribe birth control pills for conditions from acne to endometriosis, and the following list does not include all of its alternative uses:

• Alleviation of menstrual cramps
• Reduction of amount and duration of menstrual bleeding
• Regulation of periods
• Clearing up some types of acne
• Lowering the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers
• Treatment of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome

Although the contraceptive pill can be used for a myriad of health benefits, there are important drawbacks to note. Birth control pills are not effective in preventing STDs, they have certain unpleasant side effects, they are not 100 percent guaranteed to work and some research has shown a slightly increased risk of breast cancer among pill users.

In other words, the contraceptive pill is not a miracle drug. Consider it a versatile way to take control of several hormone-related issues that most women deal with, whether the condition is mild or severe. And keep in mind that different brands can have different types of hormone combinations, so make sure the pill you’re choosing is right what you want to treat.

Contraceptives aren’t always just about preventing pregnancy; women across all age groups are now using contraceptive pills to control more than birth — they are taking control of their hormones to improve their lives.

Add a Comment19 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Choosing the type of pill and the regimen to follow is often more important than choosing among birth control pill brands.
Types of Birth Control Pills

March 7, 2011 - 2:49am
EmpowHER Guest

Ladies, your insights are very helpful. Thank you so much.

The panic attacks have subsided somewhat. I did see my ob-gyn, but he said since I am still getting my period normally, I'm probably not peri or pre-menopausal.

He seems to think that since I was on the pill for so long and it did everything for my ovaries, that I'm probably out of whack because my ovaries are trying to do it on their own now (after 20 years).

Yesterday, however, sitting at my desk, I started to get really really warm, to the point where I hiked my pant legs to my knees and the sweat was rolling off me. Only last for a couple minutes. I know it's probably a hot flash, but I haven't had another one (I know it hasn't been 24 hours yet).

Some days I wish I was a guy.

May 6, 2009 - 5:36am
EmpowHER Guest

I am 39 years old and went off birth control after 20 years in early February (2 months now). I figured my body could use a break.

However, in the past two weeks I have been in the emergency room twice for anxiety/panic attacks. I wake up with my heart racing, sweaty palms/feet, disoriented, etc. My periods have regulated to every 26 days. But I feel "odd" all day and not myself. It's really scaring me.

I'm just wondering why doctors say that there are no side effects when going off the pill? I've had my thyroid tested, full MRI on head and ears and everything is normal.


April 28, 2009 - 8:10am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

Thanks for your question and I'm sorry to read your are experiences these panic attacks. Our hormones are very powerful so there may indeed be side effects to going off the Pill since going off (and on) the Pill changes our body chemistry.

(By the way, the body does not necessarily need a "break" from being on the Pill)

Being on or off the Pill can affect our weight, skin, moods and even breast size. If you were on the Pill for 20 years - that is all your adult life. It may also be that the Pill was masking some underlying issues and now that you are off the Pill, the symptoms are showing.

It may also be the case that coming off the Pill and experiencing these attacks are mere coincidence.

Also, at 39, you may be entering peri-menopause. That's a fairly early age for this but certainly not unknown.

Do you have any other underlying health issues? Did the panic attacks and racing heart start right after you stopped birth control?

April 29, 2009 - 12:55pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

I just have to chime in that 39 is definitely not all that young to be entering peri-menopause! Typically, it starts in your mid-30s. I'm not sure when exactly I started into the wonderful world of peri-menopause, but when I was 36 and 37, I was experiencing really awful night sweats and heavy periods. Unfortunately, we're not really told much about peri-menopause when we're in our 30s. I was totally clueless about it until I was nearly 41 and just couldn't take my symptoms anymore. That's when I started on YAZ and it changed my life.

April 29, 2009 - 3:54pm
(reply to Anonymous)

It's definitely likely that your body is adjusting to the lack of pill-regulated hormones from your contraceptive. From what I understand, it can take about three months for your body to adjust back to normal after discontinuing contraceptive use, so it could be that you need to allow a little more time. You could also have a hormone imbalance that was "fixed" by your contraceptive use.

My advice to you is to give your body a little more time and if you don't feel right, talk to your OB/GYN and also consider seeing a hormone specialist if you think there is a direct correlation there.

As for doctors not mentioning side effects from discontinuing use, my guess is that most are so mild that it wouldn't discourage women from using them in the first place. But any doctor should mention this, and it is a good lesson for everyone to make sure to ask lots of questions when starting a new medication.

I hope you start to feel back to normal soon!

April 29, 2009 - 12:34pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for your comments susanc. I'll sign off as *JB so I won't be mistaken for another Anon.


April 18, 2009 - 7:01am
HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

I'm sorry you have been suffering so badly in this area for so long. I hope you can find a way to ease these symptoms.

Since I have no way of knowing what kind of birth control pill is best for you, I can just tell you what worked for me. It has been a really long time since I've used the Pill but I used Triphasal and Ortho Tri-Cyclen - both are "triphasic" pills which means that they contain three different amounts of hormones throughout your monthly cycle, depending on what week you are in.

Both worked very well for me, I had no side effects and no pregnancies! But I also had no underlying problems similar to yours so this may not be of much help to you.

I hope you and your doctor can find something that works for you. And perhaps by posting here you will meet up with someone who has had similar problems and can share experiences.

Please update us when you find what works for you - we'd love to hear more.

April 18, 2009 - 4:47am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Lauren and all forum readers:

I have suffered greatly with my period every single month (mostly vomitting and cramps) since age 14. I'll be 33 yrs old in a couple of months. I am less than 110 lbs (which is hereditary), have little to no appetite (mostly all of my life), not consistant in taking vitamin supplements (most are too strong for me), and I really want to feel and look like a healthy woman. I basically have the body of a lanky 15 yr old. My period comes regular every month and I do not experience heavy bleeding. So I've never had irregular cycles. I am not sexually active and I do not have any kids. I've tried medication that cancer patients use after chemo to reduce nausea symptoms and it works great at the onset of my period. That's a good feeling since I've been vomitting every month for the past 19 years. But when my period stops, I get terrible headaches and sometimes become nauseous. By the way, that medication (Divon-British product) was not prescribed by a doctor. I got it from my cousin who suffered terribly with her period as well. Her dad had cancer and that was prescribed for him. I know- that's a stupid thing for me to do. But I've tried so many different things (prescribed pain killers-by doctors, natural vitamins (such as nettle, rosemary) and even meditation and self-hypnosis).

Okay, now to the point - Would you recommend an oral contraceptive for someone like me? And which kind of pill do you think would work best for me? I know I'll have to visit an obgyn, but I'd just like to hear some suggestions from women who have used birth control pills. I do not visit an obgyn or any general practioner on a regular basis. Overall, I am healthy with no signs of terminal sickness or disease. Also, this month was the last time I've decided to take the medication suited for recovering cancer patients. It could do more damage than good for me in the long run. I would appreciate your suggestions.

April 18, 2009 - 12:39am
(reply to Anonymous)

Hi JB, I might recommend the vaginal ring to you as a new form of birth control to try. I also suffer from nausea and all the unpleasant things (I'm about 100 pounds, so low weight also!) and I've tried probably 5 or 6 different types of birth control (patch and various pills) and have settled on a generic form of Yaz for a variety of reasons. However, I have a friend who has tried the NuvaRing and she is very happy with it. But I'm not a doctor and I'm not a birth control expert, just a content user!

My advice to you may be to watch what you eat before and after you take an oral contraceptive, especially if you have an irritable stomach. Avoid citrus and acidic foods that can cause increased side effects. If you plan on having children in the future, perhaps something like an IUD.

The great benefit of birth control is that for women whose hormones are naturally "out of whack," it can regulate that. In addition to seeing your OB/GYN, I think you may benefit from seeing a hormone specialist to see if perhaps there is something he/she may be able to help you with without turning to contraceptives.

Good luck!!!

April 29, 2009 - 12:30pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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