Although the most commonly known use for birth control is in the name (to keep you from getting pregnant) the pills can also have medical applications for treating several conditions. Here are three conditions that may spur your gynecologist to prescribe birth control.
Endometriosis is typically only officially diagnosed by surgery, but since it varies in severity and doesn't have a cure, your doctor may try birth control first and only recommend surgery if your symptoms continue to worsen. The condition occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium (uterine lining) starts to grow outside the uterus, typically starting inside the pelvic cavity.
Although noncancerous, these growths cause all the symptoms you'd imagine. For example, common symptoms include pelvic pain, bloating, worsened menstrual cramps, infertility, diarrhea or constipation, and dyspareunia. Prescribing continuous birth control to help you skip your period can often help reduce or prevent period-related symptoms.
2. Estrogen Dominance
Your hormones can become unbalanced for a number of reasons. For example, endometriosis often occurs along with an excess of estrogen in the body. And if you have digestive issues, your body might not be metabolizing and eliminating estrogen correctly. Other reasons can include hormone replacement therapy or low progesterone levels.
Whatever the reason, estrogen dominance can be problematic for a number of reasons. Too much estrogen can cause symptoms such as thinning and graying hair, bloating, mood swings, headaches, fatigue, and even excess weight. In addition, some cancers feed on estrogen, so getting your levels normal can reduce your risk factor.
If you have too much estrogen in your body, taking a birth control full of estrogen won't work for you. So if you are taking one, look for an alternative.
Multiple formulations for hormonal birth control exist. If your doctor prescribes one that has no estrogen-like substances, just other substances such as progestin (which balances estrogen out), this can help bring your body back into balance. This prescription is best if your estrogen dominance is due to low progesterone, rather than just high estrogen.
3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Like endometriosis, PCOS is a chronic illness with no known cure. Polycystic ovaries means that you have many small cysts on your ovaries, rather than the one small functional cyst that's supposed to develop during your cycle. These cysts are thought to be caused by an imbalance of hormones, which also causes pain, unpredictable periods, acne, bloating, and infertility.
Since PCOS is hormone-related, many people find relief from symptoms when they take a combination birth control pills to get both estrogen and progestin. Several different formulations exist, so if the one you're on isn't working, talk to your doctor about trying one with a slightly different hormone ratio.
Some people have both endometriosis and PCOS; if you suspect this could be the case for you, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. You may need a different treatment than someone who only has one or the other of these conditions.
Medical reasons for birth control tend to be hormonal conditions, which can cause mental health issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, and depression. Changing the hormone balance in your body may change your moods and impact mental health in some cases. Keep a close eye on how you feel on birth control treatment.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you feel more anxious or depressed after starting a new birth control. And if you're already experiencing mental health issues, perhaps due to your medical condition, make sure you're seeing a mental health professional in addition to calling a reputable gynecologist such as Aloma Park OBGYN, PA