The Misconceptions of Contraceptives

By Kileigh Ford

What happens when your ovaries don’t make enough estrogen? Or you have incredibly painful periods? With a long-standing misconception that the sole purpose of female birth control is to prevent pregnancy, I’m here to bring you to the twenty-first century, where modern birth control is saving ladies from a lifetime of pain.

For women with acne, irregular periods, painful period cramps, and hormone imbalances, birth control is often used as the solution. Along with resolving these issues, birth control reduces the risk of anemia, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and ovarian cysts. While yes, birth control does prevent pregnancy, it does so much more;  birth control prevents women from aching constantly and going dizzy with pain when their “special friend” comes each month, it helps women build confidence and lose the pain as acne goes away, it regulates hormones to ensure that women are having their period just once a month, no more, no less, and it can often prevent cancer within the female reproductive system. It’s time to get rid of the stigma that there is only one reason for taking birth control and realize that it does so much more to benefit ladies.

Of course, there’s the traditional use for birth control: pregnancy prevention. The pill introduces hormones to your body which can stop ovulation, thicken the mucus on the cervix to hinder sperm from getting to the egg, and change the uterine wall lining so eggs can’t implant themselves in the wall. While not 100% effective, when taken orally the pill is 99.9% effective if taken properly, and birth control implants are greater than 99% effective. The likelihood of getting pregnant is very slim and the other benefits, often even more of the reason for people taking the pill, are just as valuable.

As a nice, added bonus, birth control also reduces your chances of developing anemia, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, and ovarian cysts. There is a chance that it could potentially increase a woman’s chance of developing other cancers because estrogen and progesterone are often the culprit of certain cancer growth (like breast cancer that has receptors for these hormones), and the synthetic recreation of these hormones in birth control may do the same. Among this, there are side effects that may accompany a hormone increase but typically these are temporary. Past these negatives, there are many positives to the usage of contraceptives.

For girls in high school and women who have battled acne into adulthood, combination birth control pills are often prescribed as a solution when all topical methods fail. The hormones in birth control help to reduce how much oil your body releases. While it won’t happen a week into taking them, combination pills containing “progestin with low androgenic possibility” work fast to realign your hormones and rid you of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, red bumps, nodules, cystic lesions, and inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. By boosting confidence and clearing skin, the pill has been a solution saving women from acne for decades.

Another plus of birth control is that it both regulates your period and helps with hormone imbalance. Birth control pills can be prescribed to replace estrogen which keeps your period regular when other parts of your body may be preventing it from doing so such as low weight, regulating too much or too little of the hormones in your body, stress, and excessive exercise. Whether your periods are coming too frequently or too rarely, the estrogen supplement of birth control can help your ovaries get right back on track.

For women who have endometriosis, a disorder where the endometrium (which normally lines your uterus) grows outside of your uterus, commonly in the ovaries, fallopian tubes or pelvis, birth control can be especially beneficial. Endometriosis creates severe pain during and outside of a girl’s period because the endometrium, wherever in the body it has spread to, will shed like it does during her period, bleeding and causing intense pain. This can also affect the tissue around where the endometrium has developed and creates scar tissue and, when in the ovaries, creates cysts called endometriomas. Oral contraceptives can be used to limit the pain women affected by endometriosis experience by stopping an affected woman’s period and thus preventing  her endometriosis from getting worse.

Imagine being a sophomore in high school and having to go home from school once every few months because you were hunched over in pain in the nurse’s office when the red sea was hitting some rocky patches inside of you. Heating pads didn’t work, Pamprin stopped helping years ago, and now it’s gotten to the point that you can’t focus in class. But then your doctor, the angel she is, draws her signature across a fresh prescription pad and within an hour you have this little rectangular packet of pills that change your world. Along with so many other girls, this was my issue and I can tell you, the change was astounding. On the same wave as regulating your period, the hormones in the pill can cause you to have less severe periods. While it differs from person to person, people generally experience little to no cramping and much less blood, making for a treacherous time of the month to have just a little more sunshine in it.

Birth control does prevent pregnancy in women who aren’t ready to have children, but it does so much more. Among preventing certain types of cancer, birth control clears acne, regulates periods in women with irregular periods or hormone imbalances, help with disorders surrounding a girls’ period, and lessen the severity of periods. A savior to those who live in pain because of their period, birth control helps make life a little better for many women during their time of the month. Forget the traditional reasoning for taking the pill, judgement over it has persisted for decades but this is the new age of female empowerment. This is not the year of judgement for personal choice, this is the year of embracing femininity and celebrating the choices women make for their own bodies . It's time to stop making assumptions about people’s usage of oral contraceptives and realize there are more uses than just what their name implies.