When someone says, “The pill,” few people ask, “Which pill?” Its fifty years as a women’s birth control option has made it part of America’s culture. Doctors call it by generic terms like OCs, OBCs, Oral Contraceptives, Birth Control Pills, BCs, or BCPs. It was first created to prevent pregnancy using the main hormonal ingredient of progesterone, or a combination of that with estrogen. Today, it uses the same main hormonal ingredients to address a woman’s menstruation-related health issues, like endometriosis, anemia, heavy bleeding, overly painful menstrual period, cramping and more.
Endometriosis, pronounced end-o-mee-tree-o-sis, is a condition when cells that should be forming monthly inside the uterus, are forming outside of the uterus instead. It is a not cancerous condition, but can grow throughout the abdominal cavity, causing a lot of pain. It can even make a woman infertile. A small dose of a birth control pill can be helpful in controlling or eliminating endometriosis for some women, maybe preventing need for surgery or other related health concerns.
More issues can be helped by birth control pills for a female of any menstruating age. Each person’s needs are different, and whether or not she uses a birth control pill of any kind is a personal decision she makes with her doctor. Whether she is a teenager or a woman in the perimenopause stage of life, pronounced perry-men-o-pause, the pill can help make some symptoms less or even eliminate the problems entirely.
Without the availability of the pill, menstrual issues such as heavy bleeding, mood swings, sleeplessness, unpredictable menstrual cycles, and severe cramping can keep a suffering woman from daily life, work, or school for over a week of every month. A small daily dose of the pill can help normal functioning, and even prevent deadly health issues.
Anemia, pronounced uh-nee-mee-uh, can lead to death by causing brain damage or heart damage, if not treated. It can be caused by heavy menstrual bleeding in a woman of any menstruating age. An anemic person does not have enough oxygen-rich blood circulating around the body. Birth control pills can be helpful in managing this problem by reducing menstrual bleeding.
Other reasons a woman might want to use the pill if not for birth control, according to Planned Parenthood, include: preventing lots of other things like acne, premenstrual syndrome symptoms including depression, breast cysts, thinning bones, and more.
The Bottom Line
The pill started fifty years ago as a birth control method. It remains one of the many choices for birth control today. But through the years, it has become much more than just a pregnancy prevention option. Today, the pill can help a woman treat painful and inconvenient health issues that used to prevent her from participating in daily activities. It even saves lives in treating anemia, so that it does not cause heart or brain damage.
While controversy remains over whether or not the pill is a moral choice in birth control, the fact remains it has brought better quality of life for women regarding other health issues than before the pill was approved by the FDA in 1961.
Birth Control Pill Timeline, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
Birth Control and Family Planning, National Health Institute
Birth Control, Planned Parenthood
Birth Control History, MedicineNet
Anemia, National Health Institute