Birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies. The medical risks of pregnancy and delivery are much higher than the risks of using any birth control method. Some birth control methods have other health benefits in addition to the prevention of pregnancy.
- Latex condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Hormonal methods of birth control that contain progestin, such as the hormonal IUD, can reduce heavy bleeding and cramping during periods and reduce anemia.
- Use of birth control pills may improve acne, reduce pain during ovulation and reduce premenstrual symptoms. They may also reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and cramping.
- Long-term use of birth control pills reduces the risk of cancer of the ovaries and uterine lining (endometrium).
Some birth control pills can be taken continuously so that you have fewer or no periods. This is not harmful, and there is no proven health benefit. But many women find it has a lifestyle benefit.
By Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology Last Revised May 3, 2012