Many refer to it as birth control while others refer to it as “B.C.” Regardless of what you call it, all forms of birth control help prevent unwanted pregnancy. At least, that’s what many think. However, birth control does a lot more than just preventing pregnancy.
According to Youngwomenshealth.org birth control pills can also be used to treat other conditions such as:
- Acne: prescribed for moderate to severe acne
- Cysts in the breast or ovaries: can reduce the size or prevent cysts
- Endometriosis: helps relieve cramps or pelvic pain during the menstrual cycle and can be used to temporarily prevent periods
- Lack of periods: it’s prescribed to individuals who suffer from being overweight, underweight, take part in excessive exercise or experience stress to help replace estrogen and start menstrual cycles.
- Menstrual Cramps: helps with severe cramping and lightens periods
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): It can help keep hormonal level balanced for those who experience PMS symptoms such as mood swings, bloating, breast soreness, weight gain, and acne.
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI): Prescribed to help regulate periods for women who don’t make enough estrogen because of radiation and/ or chemotherapy.
- Heavy Menstrual Periods: Can help reduce length or amount of bleeding during the menstrual cycle
Other benefits of birth control include helping treat:
- Bone thinning
- Iron deficiency (anemia)
Now that we know what birth control pills can do, it’s time to figure out which form of birth control works best for you
Birth control pills are 91 percent effective or higher depending on if it is used properly. It requires you to take your pill at the same time of day every day. For some, this can be hard to remember. If this sounds like something that may be a challenge for you, there are several options to consider:
The birth control patch is 91 percent effective and needs to be replaced every week. It’s applied to the skin in areas like the arm or stomach. The patch works similarly to the pill, but you don’t have to remember to change your patch every day. If that still seems like too much of a hassle, or if the patch causes irritation on the skin, maybe try the NuvaRing.
The NuvaRing is a small, flexible piece of plastic that’s inserted into the vagina and provides the same hormones as oral birth control pills. Like the pill and patch, it’s also 91 percent effective if used properly and needs to be replaced once a month, around the time of your menstrual cycle. However, if taking a ring out of your vagina once a month sounds too invasive, you may want to consider trying the shot.
The birth control shot, called Depo Provera, is 94 percent effective and requires women to get a hormonal shot every three months. Although it’s less of a hassle having to get a shot every three months, getting a shot may not be for you. If this is not to your liking, you may want to consider an intrauterine device, or commonly known as an IUD.
The IUD is 99 percent effective and can last up to 3-10 years, depending on the type of IUD you choose. The IUD is a little t- shaped device that is inserted into the uterus and works to prevent pregnancy. This method does require an office visit for a quick procedure, typically less than 15 minutes. If having something placed inside your uterus for that long makes you uneasy, you may want to consider the implant which is just as effective.
The birth control implant is 99 percent effective and can last up to 4 years. It’s inserted under the skin in the upper arm. It may be easier to consider having something in your arm compared to your uterus.
All of these contraceptives methods require a discussion/visit with a doctor, as well as a prescription from your doctor and cannot be purchased over the counter. Please remember that these birth control methods do not prevent transmission of STDs so other barrier methods should be used in addition. For more questions on birth control talk to your doctor.