This article was originally published on SheKnows.com—the #1 women's lifestyle digital media company, with a mission of women inspiring women—as "5 (More!) Uses For Birth Control That Have Nothing To Do With Sex," and is reposted with permission from the author.
I’m a firm believer that the phrase, “Me too!” holds powerful bonding potential between women.
When I first started writing for HelloFlo, I wrote about uses for birth control that weren’t related to preventing pregnancy. Having started the pill for ovarian cysts myself, I thought this topic was a great way to get people thinking about oral contraceptives.
And with hundreds of subsequent comments on Facebook and dozens of “Me toos,” it was clear that birth control had transcended its namesake.
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At first, I felt a bit shy about my tiny pack of blue pills. I thought people who knew about it assumed things about my personal life without a second thought about my health. As I offered up the info about my gnarly cysts, I felt empowered to have educated someone on an extra use of the pill.
Nowadays, I’m all for talking about birth control and a few other female issues I have direct experience with. Aside from the warmth of that "Me too," I think sharing testimonies gives women a stronger voice in the media — and in the medical community.
The first article I wrote covered five common uses of birth control, citing conditions such as endometriosis and acne. But I think there’s still a lot more to be said for taking the pill, and it was the HelloFlo community that said it best.
1. Low hemoglobin/iron deficiency
Some women experience iron absorption abnormalities, as well as inherited iron diseases that affect hemoglobin levels. Besides these, heavy periods (menorrhagia) and regular menstruation can amplify symptoms and cause anemia.
Add conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids to the mix, and heavy bleeding is even more of a concerning factor. For premenopausal women, menstruation is a primary cause of blood loss. But taking a hormonal birth control can slow heavy bleeding, regulate abnormally long periods or stop menstruation altogether.
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Sometimes women experience the flip side of heavy bleeding, called amenorrhea. Though this seems like a gift in disguise — even with the word “amen” in its name — a lack of menstruation isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, estrogen is essential for healthy, strong bones.
Aside from pregnancy, common causes of amenorrhea include reproductive organ issues, inconsistencies within the glands that regulate hormones, eating disorders and excessive exercise and genetic defects. When it’s a case related to hormones (secondary amenorrhea), birth control can help kick-start the menstrual cycle.
3. Controlling hair
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, birth control pills can help control hair growth on a woman’s body. Male hormones called androgens are responsible for tiny chest hairs and happy trails, but oral contraceptives can reduce androgens produced by the ovaries.
Women do produce androgens too, yet some women are extra sensitive to them. It’s even possible to experience “male-pattern hair loss” though symptoms like upper lip hair also appear. Birth control can help regulate this hormonal imbalance, particularly if it’s a low-androgen formula.
Lately, there’s been even more of a push for public acceptance and acknowledgment of migraines — for good reason. The Mayo Clinic says progesterone and estrogen “play key roles in regulating the menstrual cycle… and may also affect headache-related chemicals in the brain.” Estrogen levels that fluctuate can make headaches even worse, especially right before your period.
Since every woman is different, using hormonal contraceptives to switch up estrogen patterns — and potentially disrupt hormonal migraines — isn’t a guaranteed migraine solution. But when your temples pound and your eyes feel like they may pop out, minimizing that drop in estrogen is worth a try. Especially since 60 percent of women attribute menstruation to the onset of their migraines.
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5. Money (yes, money!)
After combing the comments, this reason to take birth control was one of the most surprising — but also made total sense.
Science says there’s no reason to have a monthly period if you aren’t trying to have children. So why pay for Midol and tampons and all the other doodads it takes to prepare for and endure menstruation? That’s easily a few hundred bucks a year you could spend on way less painful things.
The list could — and has — gone on. Whether you’re taking the pill for one of the original reasons I mentioned, one of the above or to prevent pregnancy, more power to you. Just know that baby-making isn’t the only reason your daughter, sister or BFF could enlist help from a trusty pack of blue pills.