The birth control pill currently on the market are of much lower doses than those of 10 to 15 years ago. They come in a range of colors, sizes and shapes. They all work in a similar way and have similar effects, both positive and negative.
Birth control pills are one of the most popular reversible contraceptive methods. With regular use, they have a 99.99 percent success rate in prefentig pregnancy. Many questions asked about birth control are about possible negative effects. Disadvantages or side effects of birth control pills are well known. Rarely are they linked to an increased occurrance of blood clotting or stroke. As well, older women who smoke and use the pill have a higher rate of heart attack. Nausea, headaches and depression have been reported.
Because these pills function well as contraceptives with few problems, there are now many women who have chosen to take the pills for several years. This means we can measure the rate of certain diseases in women who take the pill and compare them to women who choose not to take the pill. Happily, besides being an effective method of birth control, we now know the pill can make a positive difference in several other health conditions.
Some benefits of birth control pills are not related to their contraceptive value but result from the estrogen and progesterone in the pills. Chart 1 shows that these hormones may benefit many body systems, especially the breasts, ovaries and uterus. Also, there is reduced risk of some conditions that occur in both men and women such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The hormones help maintain stronger bones, thereby overcoming osteoporosis (brittle bones), a condition that occurs with the low hormone levels of menopause.
Many things should be considered when choosing a method of contraception. The health benefits for some women may influence the method of contraception chosen.
More information about the benefits and side-effects of birth control pills should help the individual or couple make better choices about their method of contraception. Choices about health issues involve weighing these risks and benefits for each individual.
Your doctor knows about particular products and their risks and benefits. You or you and your partner have the intimate knowledge about your own situation. Working together you can make the best choice.
Birth Control Pills: Benefits besides contraception
|Conditions that definitely occur less frequently||Conditions that probably occur less frequently||Conditions that probably occur more frequently|
|Irregular periods||Painful periods||Increased bone density|
|Cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer) 50% reduction||Endometriosis|
|Fibroids in uterus (muscle tumors within the uterine wall)||Rheumatoid arthritis|
|Major infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes||Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)|
|Ectopic pregnancies (pregnancies occurring outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes)||Acne (especially with certain types of oral contraceptives)|
|Benign breast disease - fibrocystic breast disease, cysts and pain||Hirsutism (a syndrome of increased hair and male qualities in women)|
|Iron deficiency anemia|