The 'Pill' Offers Benefits Beyond Birth Control

TUESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Along with preventing pregnancy, hormonal contraceptives also treat menstruation-related disorders such as severe menstrual pain and heavy menstrual bleeding, according to a new Practice Bulletin issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The bulletin also said that combined contraceptives containing both estrogen and progesterone reduce the risk of endometrial, ovarian and colorectal cancer. Other potential benefits include prevention of menstrual migraines, treatment of pelvic pain caused by endometriosis and treatment of bleeding because of uterine fibroids.

"We've known for many years that hormonal contraceptives have health advantages beyond preventing pregnancy," Dr. Robert L. Reid, who led the development of the bulletin, said in a news release from the organization. "These recommendations examine the scientific data supporting the non-contraceptive uses of hormonal contraceptives to treat specific conditions."

"Combined oral contraceptives are effective in normalizing irregular periods, reducing symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, improving acne and allowing women to avoid having their period at inconvenient times, such as during a business trip, vacation or honeymoon," Reid added. "Although there is little data on the newer forms of hormonal contraception in terms of their off-label benefits, experts suggest that they may be as effective as the more studied ones in treating the same conditions."

The bulletin is published in the January issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more about menstrual irregularities.

SOURCE: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, news release, Dec. 21, 2009

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