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How oral contraceptives can affect your quality of life

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The FDA approved the first oral contraceptive called Enovid in1960. Since then, the birth control pill has been improved and there are two main types; those with estrogen and progestin and those with just progestins. There is a lot of controversy regarding oral contraceptive, one being how it affects a woman’s overall quality of life.

A recent study from Spain of almost 1,000 young women showed higher quality of life scores for women on hormonal contraception than those that did not. Areas investigated were social, menstrual and breast symptoms, psychological and sexual. All showed higher quality of life scores than women who do not use contraception. Previous smaller studies from Sweden had shown a lower quality of life especially in the psychological domain.

OB-GYN specialists at SIU Medicine have found contraceptives to be extremely helpful for women and frequently use oral contraceptives and other hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and help patients with other symptoms, such as:

  • Control periods
  • Decrease cramping and discomfort
  • Decrease mood swings
  • Regulate menstrual cycles
  • Reduce hormonal acne
  • Alleviate premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder symptoms
  • Reduce menstrual related headaches

These benefits of the birth control pill are particularly true for young girls who are having irregular or heavy periods. Some young women have a lot of discomfort to the point where they’re missing school or can’t perform as well in sports or activities. We use oral contraceptive pills a lot to control their menstrual cycles and they work very well.

A combination of estrogen and progestin are found in most birth control pills. For women who are experiencing premenstrual dysphonic disorder or severe PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, the stable stream of hormones can also regulate mood changes and stop some of the often-debilitating symptoms that might affect their day-to-day life.

A small number of women experience a decreased libido, due to the increase in sex hormone-binding globulin, which can decrease androgens. Often changing the type of hormonal contraception can improve this side effect.

The birth control pill is not recommended for women who suffer from migraines with aura or severe headaches. The consistent use can risk triggering bad migraines or even stroke. Women who high have a history of blood clots or family problems with estrogen should stick with progestin-only birth control pills, which do tend to cause more irregular bleeding than pills with both progestin and estrogen.

The incidence of negative side effects from oral contraception has decreased significantly over time. As dosages get lower—as long as they’re not so low breakthrough bleeding occurs—patients are able to enjoy all the benefits the pill can provide. And clearly, there are many.

To learn more about birth control and how it can benefit you and your unique symptoms, contact SIU Medicine today at 217-545-8000.

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