Contraceptives Awareness Month: Week 2 – More than Birth Control

Non-contraceptive benefits of oral contraception

Oral contraception is a reliable method of preventing unwanted pregnancies. However, there is more to oral contraception than controlling the world’s population.

In this article, we share 4 ways oral contraception can play a bigger role than just birth control

  • Skin improvement
  • Reduced mood symptoms & breast tenderness in women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Reduced bloated feeling
  • Improved period regularity and reduced spot bleeding

1. Skin improvement

Many contraceptive pills work in the prevention and treatment of acne, of the various brands, you may have heard of Yaz which is one of the three pills approved by the FDA.

By prevention of hormonal fluctuations, contraceptive pills can control androgen hormones and prevent too overproduction of testosterone. Testosterone can increase sebum production that clogs up pores and lead to acne formation. Where uncontrolled and inflammation prolongs, the condition can become more serious and lead to cystic acne formation.

For more severe cases, antibiotics and retinoids may be prescribed by your doctor. However, contraceptive pills have been used alone for simple to moderate cases with good effect.

2. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but more serious, leading to severe irritability, depression, or anxiety. This can happen in the week or two before your period starts. Symptoms usually go away two to three days after your period starts.

Select serotonergic antidepressants are first-line treatments but there have been studies to show that drospirenone is effective in treating the mood, physical and behavioral symptoms of PMDD and symptoms specifically associated with food, water retention and negative interpersonal relationships.

While the results showed that the drospirenone combination pill reduced impairments in productivity and social functioning in women with PMDD, there was insufficient evidence of benefit for those with PMS, so it is important to distinguish the difference between the two.

3. Bloatedness

It is true that many women notice less bloating and weight gain during their period after starting Yaz. Drospirenone/ethinyl estradiol birth control like Yaz can also manage period pain, reducing bloatedness, cramping and muscular discomfort.

Not all birth control pills can prevent bloatedness, some contraceptives can even lead to bloatedness. Check with your physician to find out more.

4. Improved period regularity and period pain

The average cycle takes place over the course of 28 days, of which most of the cramps occur from day 1-5.

Low-dose estrogen/progestin combined oral contraceptives have been shown to reduce the severity of period cramps. This is ofen provided as a 28-day cyclic regimen of ethinylestradiol/drospirenone. However a study in Japan showed that a flexible regimen (28-120 days) was more beneficial in reducing pain from dysmenorrhoea and that women were more likely to be satisfied when on the flexible regimen.

Period cycles can also be regulated through continuous or extended use of oral contraceptives. This provides number of advantages to women, including fewer menstrual-related syndromes and reduced absenteeism from work or school.

For women whose goal is to reduce but not necessarily to eliminate monthly bleeding, the cyclic use of estrogen-progestin contraception is suggested.

For women whose goal is to stop period altogether, depot injections, continuous oral contraceptives, and the levonorgestrel intrauterine device (such as Mirena) are all effective.

It is however important to note that bleeding is common during the first three months of OCP use. It is important to adhere to your prescribed regime before switching oral contraceptive medications. Speak to your doctor if you are not sure about your current regime.

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