Birth Control Pills, Patch, or Ring
Why It Is Used
Birth control hormones are commonly used to:
- Prevent pregnancy. Birth control hormones prevent pregnancy in three ways. They stop the Reference ovaries Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window from releasing an egg each month (ovulation). They also thicken the mucus in the Reference cervix Opens New Window. This makes it hard for sperm to travel into the uterus. And birth control hormones change the lining of the uterus, which makes it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to it.
- Control menstrual periods. Taking estrogen and progestin on a schedule keeps your menstrual periods on a schedule. You can schedule your periods to be every month, every few months, or not at all. This can relieve you of problems that flare with every menstrual cycle, like Reference endometriosis Opens New Window or painful Reference ovarian cysts Opens New Window.
- Lighten menstrual bleeding. Normally, the uterus builds up a new lining every month, which then sheds away. This shedding is your menstrual bleeding. Taking hormones keeps the lining from getting very thick, so bleeding is lighter.
- Help relieve menstrual pain. Birth control hormones lower your level of Reference prostaglandins Opens New Window, which are one cause of menstrual pain.
- Help relieve perimenopausal problems. In the years leading up to Reference menopause Opens New Window, a woman's hormone levels are unpredictable. Taking birth control hormones helps keep hormones even. This may help relieve some of the symptoms women have in the years before menopause (perimenopause).
- Treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) problems. Birth control hormones may help control Reference PCOS Opens New Window problems. Certain pills may improve acne problems, excess hair growth, and male-pattern hair loss related to PCOS.
- Prevent some diseases. Taking birth control hormones lowers Reference ovarian cancer Opens New Window risk.Reference 1 For women with a risk of Reference endometrial cancer Opens New Window, taking progestin with estrogen helps lower that risk.Reference 2
- Relieve PMS-related problems. Certain birth control pills, such as Yasmin and Yaz, have a type of progestin hormone that reduces water retention (bloating) during the menstrual cycle. This type of pill may also help relieve symptoms of Reference premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) Opens New Window, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome.
Do not use birth control hormones containing estrogen if you have any of the following conditions:
- Uncontrolled Reference high blood pressure Opens New Window (hypertension)
- Liver disease
- History of blood clots
- History of Reference stroke Opens New Window
- History of Reference migraine headaches with aura Opens New Window
- Reference Diabetes Opens New Window with complications
- History of Reference breast cancer Opens New Window (estrogen stimulates certain types of breast cancer)
- Breast-feeding in the 6 months after childbirth
- Long-term bed rest after a major surgery
If you are older than age 35, do not use birth control pills if you:
- Take medicine for high blood pressure.
- Have diabetes.
- Have high Reference cholesterol Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: May 3, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology