Surprising Uses For Birth Control Pills Besides Preventing Pregnancy

At least 11 million American women use birth control pills at any given time (per Johns Hopkins Manual of Gynecology and Obstetrics). Of course, many of these women are sexually active and seeking to avoid pregnancy. This makes sense, as birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. The pill protects against pregnancy by preventing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, and in case all else fails, thinning the uterine lining to prevent a fertilized egg from successfully attaching itself (per theĀ Cleveland Clinic).

While pregnancy prevention is certainly the most common and well-known function of birth control pills, it is far from the only function. About 58% of people who take the pill use it at least partially for purposes other than pregnancy prevention. For 14% of people who use the pill, pregnancy prevention doesn't even show up on the radar. In fact, 762,000 people take the pill despite never having had sex, with fewer than 1% of these people taking the pill for pregnancy prevention purposes (per Guttmacher Institute). If not for pregnancy prevention, why would these people be taking the pill?

Birth control pills help alleviate uterine and skin problems

Aside from pregnancy prevention, the most common reason people use the pill is to regulate their period and alleviate any painful symptoms that may accompany it. More than 30% of people who take the pill use it for this purpose. This is especially common for teenagers, who are more likely to suffer from irregular periods and menstrual-related disorders. In fact, more teenagers use the pill for non-contraceptive purposes (82%) than for birth control (67%), according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Nearly 4% of people on the pill take it to treat endometriosis, a painful reproductive disorder that affects around 10% of women across the globe (per World Health Organization). Perhaps less expectedly, 14% of pill users take the pill to treat acne. Taking birth control pills is an effective way to combat acne, but only if the pills have estrogen in them, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care.