7+ Reasons Other Than Pregnancy Prevention To Take Birth Control

When the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, was approved by the FDA in 1960, its number one purpose was to prevent pregnancy. It was a huge step for those who ovulate, because it finally gave them control over their bodies and the choice as to when (and if!) they wanted to have children. Although Enovid had a positive and progressive impact on reproductive rights, it wasn't without its side effects. Due to its high-estrogen percentage, it was eventually discontinued in 1988. 


But in its wake came the three choices of birth control pills we have today, as well as other hormonal birth control options like NuvaRing, the IUD, Depo-Provera, and the patch. As more people turned to hormonal birth control to prevent pregnancy, it eventually became clear that pregnancy prevention wasn't the only pro that birth control could offer. There was so much more to it in regard to benefits. 

According to a study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, evidence has shown that birth control pills have "become important medications for many functional or organic disturbances." And, as the study found, the benefits make up a very long list of everything from positively impacting endometriosis to even delaying or preventing the onset of multiple sclerosis.


While the reason why you may take birth control is no one's business but your own, here are more than a dozen reasons why other people might be taking it.

It keeps periods regular

Despite the fact that menstrual cycles can run anywhere from 21 to 35 days, with a 28-day average, not everyone who menstruates has regular periods. According to findings published by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 14% to 25% of people experience irregular periods. In other words, you never really know if it's safe to wear white or not.


Once your doctor has ruled out that your irregularity isn't a symptom of PCOS, endometriosis, or any other menstruation disease or condition, hormonal birth control becomes an option. Because the Pill stops ovulation, there are no periods to be had that need regulating. Instead, when bleeding occurs during that time frame when the placebo pills are taken, it's called withdrawal bleeding — the result of the uterus shedding its lining. Without ovulating, you can't have irregular menstruation. However, even while on birth control, minimal spotting (also known as breakthrough bleeding) can occur.

It helps minimize menstrual cramps

In the same vein as regulating periods, the Pill can also minimize menstrual cramps because — again — you're not ovulating. According to American Family Physician, 90% of those who menstruate experience primary dysmenorrhea — some form of menstrual cramps. There are various reasons why one might experience cramps, like diseases or specific menstrual-related conditions. But if your doctor has examined you and deduced your cramps are strictly because of your period, then they'll give you the option of getting on hormonal birth control to minimize your cramps. 


Menstrual cramps occur when the uterus releases prostaglandins into the body. Because levels of prostaglandins differ from person to person, this can affect the severity of cramps, as these chemicals' main job during menstruation is to make sure the uterus contracts in order to flush out the lining. But if you take away the ovulation, you take away your period, leading to shorter and lighter "periods," which means less severe cramps. In some cases, cramps may be eliminated altogether.

It treats endometriosis symptoms

According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, endometriosis affects one in 10 people with uteruses in the United States and 200 million worldwide. Endometriosis can be a devastating disease, for which there is no cure. It can be classified as minimal to severe, and those who have it can experience varying degrees of bleeding, physical pain — during intercourse and during menstruation — and infertility among other side effects.


There are a handful of ways to manage symptoms of endometriosis, and one of the most common is to take a low-dose birth control pill. The progestin in the Pill stops the release of an egg every month (ovulation). This prevents tissue from growing outside the uterus, as it normally would with endometriosis. However, because endometriosis isn't just physically debilitating, but can mentally and emotionally debilitating too, sometimes birth control just simply isn't enough. According to Mayo Clinic, laparoscopic surgery may be the only relief and can be a strong choice to help those with severe cases. 

It can clear up acne

It doesn't matter your age; acne can be an issue. You can make it out of your teens with the clearest skin in the world only to end up dealing with adult acne in your 30s or 40s (or older!). While there are lots of treatments for acne, from specialty face washes to diet changes, the Pill is also an option.


"The Pill contains the same hormones that your body makes, called estrogen and progestin, just in different amounts, so it can override your body's signals to release an egg (or ovulate)," ob/gyn Dr. Jennifer Ashton tells Teen Vogue. "Consequently, it also lowers your body's testosterone level, which in turn can reduce acne."

However, it's important to take into consideration that, like with all medications, it takes time for the body to adjust. This means acne may get worse before it gets better. And while the majority of those who take the Pill for acne see positive changes, it doesn't mean it will work for everyone, since everyone's body is different.

It helps with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a condition in which the ovaries produce too much of the male sex hormone, androgen, causing cysts to form in the ovaries, in addition to causing other not-so-great symptoms. 

"PCOS is not something birth control can necessarily treat, but birth control methods can help to manage some of the possible complications," assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Dr. Ana G. Cepin tells the National Coalition for Sexual Health. "One complication of PCOS is not knowing when or how heavy your period will be. Additionally, if you don't bleed for a prolonged period of time, an abnormal growth of cells that line the uterus can develop, leading to uterine cancer. Taking methods that help regulate your bleeding is very important for women with PCOS."


Because androgen is a male sex hormone, it can also cause hirsutism (excessive body hair), acne, and in some cases even baldness. So, in taking the Pill for PCOS, you're not just managing the growth of cysts in the ovaries, but the additional symptoms that come with the condition.

It can lower risks of certain cancers

Although (according to the National Cancer Institute) the Pill can increase the chances of breast and cervical cancers, it can decrease the chances of getting endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancers. On the flip side, research has found that those who opt for IUDs as their birth control method, can possibly avoid getting cervical cancer in the future. According to research by Obstetrics and Gynecology that was published in the National Library of Medicine, an IUD can lower one's chances of cervical cancer by as much as 30%.


What this means is if your family has a history of certain cancers, you have an option that could possibly lower your risk of those cancers. While there's no guarantee that any type of birth control will negate any chance of you getting any kind of cancer, it's still something worth talking about with your doctor and seeing what they suggest.

It gives people with uteruses more opportunities

No one should be forced to become a parent before they're ready. In preventing pregnancy, birth control gives women and people with uteruses autonomy. What this also means is it gives women more opportunities. According to findings by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy published in NBC News, before the invention of the Pill, there were no female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. As of January 2023, for the first time ever, women make up 10% of those CEOs — bringing the total to 53, according to Fortune. Granted, we still have a long way to go, but that's just an example of how much of an impact (in the professional world alone) birth control has made.


But as that study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism found, these are just seven of many reasons why one might take birth control for reasons other than pregnancy prevention. Other conditions and diseases that birth control can help with include seborrhea dermatitis, uterine fibroids, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual-related migraines, pelvic inflammatory disease, bone density issues, asthma, and — as mentioned in the intro — it can even prevent multiple sclerosis. While birth control affects people differently, it's still an option for treating a lot of conditions, making it something worth considering and discussing with your doctor.