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The Noncontraceptive Benefits of the Pill

Barbie turned 40 last year, and so did birth control pills.  While the pill started as just a contraceptive, it is now approved for emergency contraception. There are low dose pills available for use by non-smoking women in their 40's and progestin only pills for nursing mothers. 

"The pill" does far more than prevent pregnancy.

For years physicians have prescribed birth control pills

  • to regulate heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • to treat ovarian cysts
  • to decrease menstrual cramps or PMS
  • to increase appetite in underweight women and
  • to reduce acne.

We also know there are many other benefits to taking the pill.  These include:

  • decreasing the risk of ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancer; and
  • decreasing the risk of osteoporosis

The pill is not for everyone.  You may not take birth control pills if you:

  • may be pregnant
  • have undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, a history of breast cancer, liver disease, blood clots or stroke. 

The pill also has many potential side effects and most are increased in smokers.

In 40 years, the pill has come a long way to benefit women.  One thing it can't do, however:  the pill can't work properly for any of these uses if you don't take it properly.

Click here for more information on the noncontraceptive benefits of the pill.

Created: 2/23/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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