Last updated: Mar 02, 2016
"There are profound and considerable noncontraceptive benefits for most methods," says Lee Shulman, MD, a professor at Northwestern University who is on the board of directors of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. Depending on the formula of the medication, the Pill can do the following.
- Help reduce menstrual bleeding for women at risk of anemia
- Reduce painful periods
- Cut back on the risk of uterine infection and ovarian cancer
- Treat PMS mood swings
- Help clear up mild to moderate acne
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But birth control still has risks
Most side effects of the Pill are minor, such as breast tenderness, headaches, or nausea, and they often subside after a few months. But rare, serious side effects include blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. Women who smoke or have any sort of heart problems should not use hormonal methods of birth control. (It's a good idea to ask to be screened for heart problems before starting one.) "It's critical that women realize that whether it's a birth control pill or baby aspirin, when they put a pill in their mouth there's a risk," says Dr. Schulman.
All birth control methods have a failure rateeven sterilization. Unless your method is abstinence, there's always a possibility that heterosexual sex could result in pregnancy. But the risk of failure per year is less than 1% for many methods, as opposed to the 85% chance of pregnancy if you don't use birth control.
The biggest reason for birth control failure is neglecting to use the method correctly or consistently.