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What are the Advantages of Oral Contraceptives?

written by: BStone • edited by: lrohner • updated: 1/16/2011

There are many reasons to take the pill, and not all of them have to do with preventing pregnancy. What are the advantages of oral contraceptives?

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    The Pill and Your Body

    birth control pills Oral contraceptives contain synthetic female sex hormones, estrogen and progestin. Taking these pills acts to prevent pregnancy by causing changes with the female reproductive system. The hormone doses stop ovulation, cause changes to the lining of the uterus, and thicken the cervical mucus so sperm cannot reach the uterus. While it is important to be aware of potential negative side effects, there are many benefits to using the pill. In fact some women are prescribed birth control pills as a form of medication for hormone-related problems. What are the advantages of oral contraceptives? Why is this the number one form of birth control?

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    An Effective Method of Birth Control

    Oral contraceptives are popular because they work. They are from 92 to 99.7 percent effective for preventing pregnancy when used properly. According to Planned Parenthood, less than one in every 100 women who take the pill every day will become pregnant each year. For women who forget to take the pill once in awhile, 8 out of 100 women will become pregnant every year.

    Oral contraceptives are also beneficial because they are convenient. As opposed to other forms of birth control, oral contraceptives do not in any way interrupt sex. They can be taken just as you would take any other daily medication or supplement. Aside from remembering to take a pill each day there is no effort involved with this form of contraception. Pills that contain progestin only need to be taken at the same time everyday.

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    Possible Beneficial Side Effects

    Aside from being an effective and convenient form of birth control there are other beneficial side effects of oral contraceptives. As taking the pill regulates the menstrual cycle it can help with having regular, predictable periods. Periods are also lighter and menstrual cramps are reduced. There are now some types of birth control pills that can be used to have very infrequent periods or none at all. Combination pills, which contain estrogen as well as progestin, can reduce some of the symptoms associated with PMS such as, acne, headaches, and mood swings.

    Birth control pills may also offer protection against the following health problems:

    • Ovarian cysts
    • Non-cancerous growths in the breasts
    • Ovarian and uterine cancers

    Understanding what are the advantages of oral contraceptives can help you make a more informed decision about what type of birth control is right for you. Regulating the menstrual cycle, reducing acne, and minimizing PMS symptoms may be reason enough to take this medication. There are negative side effects as well and cases where it may not be a good idea to take certain versions of the pill. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your specific needs and health to find the right option for you.

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    References

    Planned Parenthood <http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/birth-control-pill-4228.htm>

    Feminist Women's Health Center <http://www.fwhc.org/birth-control/thepill.htm#advantages>

    National Institutes of Health <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601050.html>

    photo by Matthew Bowden

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