Q&A with Your Gyno: Does Birth Control Help with Cramps?
Over 10 million women take birth control in the U.S., and for many, it has been an essential method for preventing pregnancy.
But birth control has plenty of other benefits as it may help women treat a number of conditions. For example, the pill isn’t just an oral contraceptive, it also helps with hormone regulation and control.
The ebb and flow of a woman’s menstrual cycle cause all sorts of hormonal fluctuations in her body. Some women experience inconsistent periods that can lead to unfortunate incidents in public and are difficult to predict. Others have heavier flows, which can be uncomfortable and even dangerous to their overall health.
That’s where birth control like the pill, IUD’s, and implants come in. They are great at helping regulate a woman’s cycle and giving her more control over her body.
But does birth control help with cramps? For some women, this condition can make the day unbearable.
Read on to see some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.
How Does Birth Control Work?
Most birth control options contain both estrogen and progestin hormones, which prevent ovulation from happening. This ensures that no eggs are released down the fallopian tube to the uterus. Even if a man ejaculates into a woman, there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize, making pregnancy nearly impossible.
But the hormones from the pill have other effects too. They help the mucus on the cervix become thicker, which creates another defense against sperm. The thicker lining makes it hard for sperm to continue further and can stick them in place entirely.
However, some women don’t need or want the extra estrogen, so they use progestin-only birth control. These are commonly referred to as the ‘mini-pill’ and help with the thickening of the cervical mucus. They also help thin the lining of the uterus and lessen the chance of ovulation occurring.
Do You Still Get Your Period Every Month?
Another reason women take birth control is to help manage their period cycle.
With the pill, you can choose the cycle length that you’d prefer. On average, you have a choice between a pack that lasts for 21 days, 28 days, and even 91 days.
If you go for the first option, you’ll only take birth control pills containing hormones for three weeks and then have your period on the forth. The second option gives you one more week, meaning it only happens every five weeks.
If you really don’t like your period and want to stall it, then the last option will let you delay your period for up to three months.
Those who get an implant or an IUD can still experience some bleeding. But women with light flows, to begin with, may find they stop bleeding entirely.
Can the Pill Help with Acne?
Multiple studies were conducted to see if birth control helped with both noninflammatory and inflammatory acne.
Results from over 12,000 participants reported a reduction in acne for the majority of women. This condition can have many causes, including the androgen hormones being released into the body during the teen years.
These hormones increase sebum production, meaning that more oil is produced and secreted by your glands. Because the pill contains estrogen, it is capable of reducing the amount of sebum your body makes, which helps reduce acne.
It’s worth knowing, however, that pills containing only progestin won’t be able to counteract the secretion of oil.
I Have an Iron Deficiency. Will Going on the Pill Help?
There are many women who experience heavy flows during their menstrual period. In some cases, this can have dangerous consequences and lead to excessive blood loss.
If this happens, it means the woman is losing a lot of blood and therefore, blood cells. Without enough healthy cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, you may develop a condition called anemia.
By taking the pill, you can regulate your flow, reduce it, or even stop it completely. This means that you lose less blood and iron.
It’s still recommended that you talk with a health practitioner as he or she may have other recommendations. Eating a diet rich in iron or taking supplements can be another strategy to help offset the loss from your period.
Does Birth Control Help with Cramps?
Menstrual cramps can be uncomfortable for some women and devastating for others. There are many reasons why they occur, so not every case is the same.
Endometriosis, for example, is when cells from the uterus lining begin affecting other parts of the body by growing there.
Another issue is due to prostaglandins, a substance in the body responsible for the contractions in a uterus. Some women, unfortunately, produce too much of this substance, which may lead to irregular and painful cramps.
Fortunately, birth control pills are effective and counteracting these symptoms. The lower prostaglandin levels in the body help reduce the contractions in the uterus.
You can also take over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen to relieve the pain and manage your symptoms more easily.
Talk to a Professional
Because every woman has different hormone levels and menstrual periods, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. When considering questions like “does birth control help with cramps?” you need the advice of a professional to know what options will work best for you.