There is currently a huge debate going on about birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The new healthcare system states that employers (excluding churches and religious non-profit organizations) must cover birth control in their insurance plans. While some people believe that companies should not provide birth control because it contradicts their beliefs, others say that it is unfair to force one’s religious beliefs on others. The thing about birth control, though, it that it is not only used to prevent pregnancy. I have come up with five main reasons that women use birth control – and contraception is only one of them!
1. Prevents Pregnancy
This goes without saying – birth control controls birth. Depending on what statistics you are looking at, the pill alone is anywhere between 92% and 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. This is a crucial thing to consider when deciding if your company should offer birth control. Would you rather pay to have your insurance plan cover birth control for your employees, or would you rather lose one of your employees for anywhere between 1 and 3 months due to maternity leave for a child they were not expecting?
2. Menstrual Cycle
A large amount of women do not experience a regular menstrual cycle. When this happens, a woman’s period may be 1 – 2 weeks late. I have actually seen women go several months without their period before they were even sexually active. Having an irregular cycle can lead to anxiety and, in my experience when I was younger, severe stomachaches.
Note: If you miss a period and you are not pregnant, you must see your doctor immediately. This may be a sign of an ovarian cyst, which I will go over later.
Birth control has shown to reduce symptoms of PMS, especially cramps, bloating, fatigue, and that depressive state that so many women experience on their period. Some women have reported having a lighter flow with their periods due to birth control. Reduction in these symptoms have shown to improve the quality of a woman’s life.
Using contraception, namely the pill, has proved to be a great method in treating acne, especially in teenagers. Coming from experience, the pill has been the only thing has treated my acne, and several friends of mine have shared my experience. My face has been covered in acne since I was 11-years-old, and I tried everything. Claritin, Neutrogena, Proactiv, pads, washes, cleansers, masks, foams – you name it, I’ve tried it. It would work for about a week, then I would end up with more acne than what I started with. My acne never really started to go away until I started taking birth control, and my face has never been clearer.
5. Ovarian Cysts
This is the main reason why I and so many others are on the pill. Ovarian cysts are very common in women and, depending on your birth control, contraception may prevent them. I had a cyst on my ovary that came and went with my period that was the size of a softball and kept me from having a regular cycle, and the pill kept it from coming back. Think of it this way: birth control prevents you from ovulating, and if you are not ovulating, you are not forming cysts. Dr. Robin Wallace explains,
“For a woman with a typical menstrual cycle, an egg is released from one ovary each month. The fancy name for the process is ovulation. To get the egg ready for release, a sac filled with fluid develops around it (fancy name = follicle). When a follicle grows larger than expected [more than one inch in size], it is called a functional cyst. A cyst is basically a bubble—a collection of fluid with a thin wall around it.”
Keep in mind that this depends on your form of birth control; as Dr. Hugo Ribot explains,
“Not all ovarian cysts arise from ovulatory follicles that failed to rupture and release the egg. Some cysts spontaneously develop from other cells in the ovary”
Also, as you can see from this image, birth control has economic benefits for one’s company as well.
Birth control is not just for preventing pregnancy. It regulates a woman’s menstrual cycle, reduces PMS symptoms, treats acne and, usually, prevents ovarian cysts. Contraception, especially the pill, can significantly affect the quality of a woman’s life, and I hope to see more insurance providers to cover birth control in their plans.