Advantages Beyond Preventing Pregnancy

Many forms of birth control come with a set of risks or side effects, but did you know that your chosen form of contraception may also be good for your health? It's true that the power to put off baby-making is a pretty big benefit, but throw in extras like reducing your risk of certain cancers and easing menstrual cramps and you may see pregnancy prevention in a whole new light. So, before you pick which contraceptive is right for you, discover the hidden health benefits of some of the most common types of birth control.

Birth control pills

Birth Control Pills

Hormonal birth control methods such as the pill, patch or ring give your body a dose of estrogen and progestin, regulating your menstrual cycle and preventing pregnancy. But the benefits of this common type of contraception do not stop there. "Oral contraception is an ideal form of birth control for many and has the added benefits of cycle control and preventing cramps, PMS and anemia, along with protecting against uterine and ovarian cancers," advises Dr. Alyssa Dweck, OB/GYN. As if these benefits to your health aren't enough, some forms of hormonal birth control even tackle acne, excessive hair growth and hair loss related to polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Intrauterine devices, also known as IUDs, are available in both plastic and copper forms and are implanted in your uterus for years at time. This tiny form of birth control not only helps you steer clear of surprise pregnancies, but also provides some protection against endometrial cancer and can lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy. And, unlike hormonal birth control pills, patches and rings, an IUD does not cause weight gain. In some countries, IUDs are also used in the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding.

Cervical caps and diaphragms

These contraceptive devices are used on demand and, when used properly in combination with spermicides, may also help protect you against certain sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, pelvic inflammatory disease and trichomoniasis. And, according to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, other health benefits include protection against cervical cancer.

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Tubal ligation, a/k/a "getting your tubes tied," is a more permanent form of birth control that may be right for you when you're sure you are done expanding your brood. However, the health benefits of this fuss-free (after the surgery) method of contraception don't stop at pregnancy prevention; according to the American Cancer Society, recent research suggests that sterilization may also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.

Although some of the most common types of pregnancy prevention are packed with good-for-you benefits, remember to evaluate the risks of each birth control method alongside the health advantages. But, regardless of the hidden health benefits of birth control, deciding which form of contraception is right for you involves evaluating your lifestyle, how often you want to deal with pregnancy prevention details and the advice of your OB/GYN. Once you discover the best method for your needs, you can focus on fun between the sheets!

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