7 Benefits of the Pill Beyond Contraception
When you first consider using a birth control pill, it’s natural to have questions and thoughts about what it is, how it may affect you and if it is safe. It may even be questions about its side effects such as: does it cause weight gain or acne, does it affect your menstrual cycle or bleed and does it really increase the risk of cancer. This blog will attempt to address your questions so that you can take control of your sexual health. So, read on!
Yes, you can get birth control pills in Malaysia.
55.6% of women in Malaysia within the reproductive age group of 15 to 49 years (the average age range when women are considered fertile and are able to get pregnant) use contraception.1 Still the usage rate is low compared to neighbouring countries such as Singapore (65.7%)1 and Thailand (79.6%). 2 Because of this, a significant number of women end up having unplanned pregnancies.
Also known as “the Pill”, combine oral contraceptive pills (COC’s) are one of the more reliable forms of contraception. They contain synthetic versions of the two hormones responsible for your menstrual cycle (oestrogen and progesterone) in low doses which prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries.3,4 When used correctly and consistently, COC’s can have an efficacy of more than 99% in preventing pregnancy.3 COC’s are typically prescribed as a 21-day pack though a one-month (28-day) pack is also available. Both contain 21 “active” pills containing oestrogen and progestin. The 28-day packs, however, have an additional 7 “dummy” pills, so there is no break in the routine of taking a pill a day.5
7 Benefits Beyond Contraception
1. Certain birth control pills may prevent menstrual water retention and oedema
Experiencing weight gain while on COCs is a myth. The truth, especially with newer COCs, is that it has been shown to help reduce water retention associated with the menstrual cycle.6
2. COCs help regulate your menstrual cycle by regulating oestrogen and progesterone in your body.
Your menstrual flow is regulated when using COCs. Your cycle may be lighter, more regular and less painful 5 COC’s may also be used to help regulate menstrual flow that is irregular or heavy.
3. And they usually improve acne.
Acne, though generally considered a problem during puberty, can affect 5% to 12% of adult women. Interestingly some women in their postmenopausal years are also afflicted with this problem.7 Do you know that high levels of androgen seen in conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can also cause acne? COC’s that contain both oestrogen and progesterone reduce the amount of androgens in your body, and this may decrease sebum production thereby helping to control acne.7 Newer generation COC’s containing drospirenone (the progestin component of COC’s) have been shown to help reduce and improve acne due to its effect of blocking naturally occurring androgens in women.7,8
4. COCs can help reduce PMS symptoms.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) naturally occurs in some women due to the hormonal changes experienced just before their monthly menstruation.9 Some women unfortunately suffer from a more severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). COC’s can be effective against both PMS and PMDD.10 They reduce painful menstruation and other menstruation-related problems, so you’re more physically and emotionally stable in carrying out daily routines.
5. They help alleviate menopausal symptoms.
Perimenopause happens when your body slows its production of oestrogen.11 Experiencing irregular menstrual flow is normal as you age. When menopausal symptoms begin to disrupt daily life, birth control pills, specifically low-dose ones may be prescribed by your doctor. They regulate hormone levels that cause many menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, stabilising erratic periods and easing mood swings.11
6. The pill may reduce the risk of developing ovarian, endometrial and colon cancer
Studies have found that COC’s offer protection against ovarian and endometrial cancer (cancer of the ovaries and inner lining of the uterus) for up to 15 years or more after stopping its use. It has also been shown that risk of developing colon cancer may be reduced in women who have taken COC’s.4
7. And may reduce the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and benign (non-cancerous) breast disease.
Taking low-dose COC’s may limit the likelihood of you developing uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths that grow on or around the uterus), non-cancerous breast conditions (fibrocystic disease and fibroadenoma) and ovarian cysts (fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries).4,12,13
Considering getting on the pill?
Consult your doctor to choose the right contraceptive method that suits your lifestyle.
1. Alkema L, Kantorova V, Menozzi C, Biddlecom A. National, regional, and global rates and trends in contraceptive prevalence and unmet need for family planning between 1990 and 2015: a systematic and comprehensive analysis. Lancet. 2013;381(9878):1642-1652. Available at: Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018
2. South East-Asia Regional Office, World Health Organization. Thailand and family planning: an overview. Available at Reference Link. Accessed on 18 September 2018.
3. World Health Organization. Family planning/contraception. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
4. World Health Organization. Family planning: a global handbook for providers. 2018 edition. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
5. National Health Services, United Kingdom. Your contraception guide: Combined pill. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
6. Oelkers W. Antimineralocorticoid activity of a novel oral contraceptive containing drosperinone, a unique progestogen resembling natural progesterone. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2003;7(Suppl3):19-26. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
7. Salvaggio HL, Zaenglein AL. Examining the use of oral contraceptives in the management of acne. Int J Womens Health. 2010;2:69-76. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
8. Maloney JM, Dietze Jr P, Watson D, et al. Treatment of acne using a 3-milligram drospirenone/20-microgram ethinyl estradiol oral contraceptive administered in a 24/4 regimen: a randomised controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:773-781. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
9. National Health Service, United Kingdon. PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
10. Lopez LM, Kaptein AA, Hlemerhorst FM. Oral contraceptives containing drospirenone for premenstrual syndrome (Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012; Issue 2: Art No. CD006586. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
11. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Perimenopause: rocky road to menopause. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 18 September 2018.
12. Moroni RM, Vieira CS, Ferriani RA, Candido-dos-Reis FJ, Brito LGO. Pharmacological treatment of uterine fibroids. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2014;4(Suppl 3): S185-S192. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 29 October 2018.
13. Schindler AE. Non-contraceptive benefits of oral hormonal contraceptives. Int J Endocrino Metab. 2013;11(1):41-47. Available at Reference Link Accessed on 29 October 2018.