Whenever you take a new medication, it’s important to weigh the “risks and benefits,” and birth control pills are no exception. The good news is that while the term side effects has negative connotations, some of the side effects associated with the pill are positive.

In fact, birth control pills are often prescribed to women as treatment, rather than contraception, for conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or severe acne.

5 Positive Side Effects of Birth Control Pills

You should speak with your physician or OB/GYN to learn more specifically about birth control pills and whether or not they make sense for you, your medical history and your lifestyle. In the meantime, here are 5 positive side effects of the pill.

1) They regulate your period, making it more predictable

Because synthetic hormones are used to regulate your menstrual cycle and preventing pregancy, many women find being on the pill makes life more predictable.

2) Say goodbye to irregular and/or heavy periods and serious PMS

Birth Control Pills

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For women who have heavy periods or irregular periods (both of which should be evaluated by your gynecologist), that same regularity is a major bonus. Periods typically become lighter and more manageable, spotting goes away after a few months (with the right prescription/dose for you) and irregularity becomes a thing of the past

3) The pill can treat acne and eliminate menstrual migraines

Oily skin, acne and even headaches or menstrual migraines are often linked to hormone fluctuations. Once hormones are stabilized by the pill, women find their acne and/or migraines are reduced or eliminated.

4) Reduced chance of ovarian cancer

Women who use the pill are less likely to get ovarian cancer, and the longer you take the pill – the better. Harvard researchers found women who take birth control pills reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer by as much as 12%, and there’s a 50% decrease in risk after five years.

5 Negative Side Effects Associated with the Pill

Of course, there are also negative side effects associated with taking the pill. Fortunately, most patients find that the process of trial-and-error with types and dosage results in finding a pill that works for your body chemistry. Potential negative side effects include:

1) Irregular spotting or break-through bleeding

Ironically, the same pill that can eliminate irregular periods can also cause spotting. It takes a few months for your body to adjust, so spotting or break-through bleeding is normal during the adjustment phase. After that, it means your pill may need to be changed or the dosage may need to change.

2) Blood clots

Every year, about 7 in 10,000 women experiences blood clots. When you’re on the pill, your risk triples – so the risk is still pretty low (21 in 10,000). AND smoking increases the chances of developing blood clots while on the pill. So, quit smoking first and think twice about the pill if you have a known heart condition, high blood pressure or diabetes.

3) Lack of libido

Ah, the irony; you take the pill to avoid getting pregnant, and then the pill slows down your sex drive so there’s less chance of getting pregnant anyway. Some women find their libido is diminished by the pill because, in addition to preventing your ovaries from ovulating, it also slows down testosterone production.

4) Moodiness

For some, the pill puts a blessed stop to PMS symptoms, in others it initiates moodiness and irritability. You won’t know which category you’re in until you try it. Fortunately, this isn’t all that common and a switch in type/brand does the trick.

5) Slows down breast milk production

If you’re nursing, know that the pill cuts down your estrogen supply. In turn, this can slow down or halt your milk supply. Typically, nursing mothers are advised to take a low-dose form (mini-pill) or use alternative forms of birth control until they’re ready to wean.

Are you interested in learning more about the birth control pill? Would you like to discuss your concerns with a physician? Schedule an appointment at Overlake and we’ll determine whether this is the right treatment/birth control option for you.