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The Pill is More Than Birth Control

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It's a question that more and more young women wonder about -- should you get on the birth control pill for its other advantages, besides that it prevents against unintended pregnancies?

A new Practice Bulletin issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that hormonal contraceptives can help treat issues such as severe menstrual pain, heavy bleeding and acne. It can also be effective in regulating typically irregular or painful periods.

Not new information -- many young women I've known in my life have been introduced to the pill, not as birth control, but as an acne medication or even a PMS pill. But it does highlight the benefits of oral contraception outside of pregnancy related ones.

Previous studies have highlighted other benefits of the pill, including linking the use of the oral contraceptive to decreasing urinary incontinence among perimenopausal women. Past research has also shown that birth control pills prevent bacterial vaginosis, protect against pelvic inflammatory disease and even affect one's choice of sexual partners.

The pill is a particularly effective method of brith control. Oral contraceptives are taken 21 of 28 days and stops ovulation, thicken your cervical mucus and help prevent fertilization. There are two types: the progestin-only pill and the estrogen and progestin pill ("the combination pill") When used correctly, the pill is over 99% effective in prevent pregnancy; the oral contraceptive can help you if you have heavy periods and bad cramps; studies have shown that taking the combination pill can help reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.

Young women may be interested that there is more research that studies additional benefits of the pill -- talking to a health professional about these benefits depending on your personal health history is always a good idea. Though there are risks to taking hormonal contraceptives, there can be advantages that may help you have better well-being and contribute positively to your sexual health.

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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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