Benefits that may surprise you when you start taking birth control pills

June 29, 2018

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Blair R. Gumnic, D.O. contributes to topics such as Women's Health.

By Brianna McCabe

Birth control pills are a prescription medication with hormones that prevent unintended pregnancies – and when taken correctly (meaning the same time of the day, every day), it is 99% effective. Although there are other forms of contraception available, including intrauterine devices (IUDs), patches, rings, and condoms, research has shown that the pill is a leading method for women in the United States.

Aside from preventing pregnancy, Blair Gumnic, D.O., an OB/GYN at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, shares other reasons women may consider going on the pill:

  • Relieves painful periods. “If a patient is being affected by painful periods to the point where it affects her daily routine, such as staying home from school due to cramps, I will recommend going on birth control to alleviate the discomfort,” shares Dr. Gumnic.
  • Regulates periods. With the most traditional form of birth control pills, a woman will take three weeks of hormone-induced pills, followed by one week of inactive “placebo” pills. During that one week, you will get your period.
  • Lessens heavy periods. “I’ve seen patients ranging from young teenagers to older women complaining of bleeding through tampons or pads for multiple days,” recalls Dr. Gumnic. The estrogen in birth control pills thickens the blood and clotting, which can decrease menstrual flow.
  • Alleviates mood disturbances. To lessen the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), the pill can stop ovulation, keep hormone levels balanced, and improve symptoms.
  • Helps with polycystic ovary syndrome (POCS) and eases endometriosis. The pill lowers testosterone levels and controls when and how a female menstruates.

Once a woman decides to start taking the pill, some side effects may include:

  • Clearer skin. Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone help decrease the amount of androgen in the body. As a result, there is a decrease in the production of sebum, which can better balance the hormones in your body and combat breakouts. However, certain birth control can cause acne. “Talk to your OB/GYN if you have any concerns to find the best pill for you,” recommends Dr. Gumnic.
  • Weight gain. Estrogen in high doses can cause weight gain due to increased fluid retention. “A lot of pills now, though, have a lower dose of hormones so the side effect is less, if even at all!” says Dr. Gumnic.
  • Nausea and headaches. “Take the pill with food or before bed,” says Dr. Gumnic. “If you notice that you are getting persistent headaches alert your doctor.”
  • Breakthrough bleeding. “Females may notice that they are bleeding in-between their cycles, which is totally normal! It can take up to three months for the body to get used to being on the medication,” assures Dr. Gumnic.

“I always tell my patients that there are many types of birth control pills out there,” adds Dr. Gumnic. “If you start one type and it doesn’t work for you, there are always different types out there. Don’t write it off. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Dr. Gumnic rotates between Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group – OB/GYN in Wall (1924 Route 35, Suite 5) and Jackson (27 South Cooks Bridge Road, Suite 2-19). If you are looking for an OB/GYN or considering if you should start taking birth control pills, call 732-974-8404 for the Wall office or 732-987-5775 for the Jackson office.