Non-Contraceptive Benefits Of "The Pill"
The contraceptive birth control pill--"the Pill"--has now passed it's 40th
birthday. Yet the past few years brought the pill several new credits to its
already lengthy list: it is now approved by the FDA for emergency (i.e. post
coital) contraception and there are pills available for use by nursing mothers.
There is one FDA-approved pill to treat acne. In addition, physicians are now
comfortable prescribing the pill as contraception to non-smoking women over
age 35 and into perimenopause.
This news gives us reason to reflect on the good news about the pill. First,
for years physicians have prescribed birth control pills for many more reasons
than contraception. These include:
- menstrual regulation: for women
with irregular periods, from none at all (amenorrhea) to too many (polymenorrhea)
or too few (oligomenorrhea) or to decrease heavy flow.
- to treat benign ovarian cysts
(including polycystic ovary syndrome)
- to decrease menstrual cramps
- to decrease the symptoms of
premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- to increase appetite in underweight
or anorexic women
These uses are all in addition to the primary benefit of excellent contraception.
There are also many secondary benefits-all medically proven--to taking the pill.
- decreasing the risk of ovarian
- decreasing the risk of endometrial
- decreasing the risk of colorectal
- decreasing the risk of osteoporosis
- decreasing the risk of pelvic
inflammatory disease (**compared to women not using the pill but also not
using condoms; your best protection against PID and all other forms of sexually
transmitted diseases is to practice safe sex which includes condom use)
- decreasing the risk of ectopic