Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Birth Control Pill Is So Much More

My new patient J. came into my office with her mother last week, to discuss her awful periods. She's 13, and has been to the emergency room several times (and missed over a week of school this year) because of heavy bleeding and disabling pain. I was excited about offering J. the birth control pill--I don't often have the chance to greatly improve someone's life with a simple prescription. But her mother resisted, because when she was young, "only bad girls went on the Pill that young." Forty-five minutes of conversation later, J.'s mother promised to think about it.
This encounter was a reminder that the birth control pill has a bad name. Sure, it's contraceptive power is fantastic (97% effective when used perfectly). But it's so much more than that:
  • The anti-anemia pill. You bleed less heavily and for fewer days each month.
  • The anti-cramp pill. You need less ibuprofen...and maybe none at all.
  • The pro-clear-skin pill. Dermatologists recommend the pill to help control acne.
  • The anti-hair-in-the-wrong-places pill. Meaning less hair growth on your face.
  • The cyst-reduction pill. You reduce the chances of benign ovarian and breast cysts.
  • The cancer prevention pill. Reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 50% and your risk of endometrial cancer by 80%.
  • The mood stabilizer pill. The pill can work wonders in some women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • The bone strengthening pill. Studies indicate that use of the pill can help ward off osteoporosis.
  • The pro-fertility pill. The pill provides some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a major cause of infertility.

All of these reasons can give you incentive to stay on your pill, even if you don't need the contraceptive benefits any longer.

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