While the primary purpose of birth control pills is to prevent pregnancy, they have several other uses as well. In fact, many women who do not need contraception take birth control pills for their non-contraceptive benefits alone.

Some of the most commonly desired perks of birth control pills include improving acne, reducing some forms of pelvic pain, and decreasing a woman’s risk of cancer of the ovary, uterus and possibly the colon. Of course, birth control pills also offer benefits that can help improve a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Often, women taking birth control pills experience a more regulated menstrual cycle of every 28 days. However, women may also choose to take their pills continuously, without the typical week of placebo pills during which menstruation would typically occur, in order to prevent hormonal fluctuations and skip menses altogether.

In addition to regulating the timing of a woman’s periods, birth control pills have shown to reduce blood loss during menstruation, shorten period cycles, lessen cramping and minimize PMS symptoms.

But, as with most things, there are potential drawbacks associated with birth control pills, including the possibility of developing blood clots in the legs.

Speak with your health care provider about your reasons for taking birth control pills. Be sure to discuss the potential risks and benefits in order to select a pill that is right for you.

• Dr. Laurie Erickson is chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your physician or call Erickson’s Ahwatukee office at (480) 759-9191.

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