I had a patient today who has menstrual migraines. . . and has had her tubes tied. We discussed starting her on hormonal contraception for noncontraceptives reasons.
I reviewed the ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) 2010 bulletin on noncontraceptive benefits of hormonal contraception. Beware: lots of numbers ahead. . .
Pain. Oral contraceptives with estrogen and progesterone (“combination pills”) relieve painful with menses in up to 80% of women (even those with endometriosis). Depot medroxyprogesterone (“Depo shot”) and the levonorgestrel IUD (Mirena) also treat menstrual pain.
Bleeding. Women with heavy bleeding benefit with up to 50% less blood loss with combination birth control pills or up to 97% less in 12 months with insertion of Mirena IUD.
Cancer. Combined oral contraceptives may reduce endometrial cancer by 50% with cancer protection lasting up to 20 years after medication discontinuation. There is a 20% decreased risk of ovarian cancer for every 5 years of use. There is an 18% risk reduction for colorectal cancer, but this reduced risk stops when medication stopped.
Other potential noncontraceptive benefits of hormonal contraceptives
- Menstrual cycle regularity
- Prevention of menstrual migraines
- Treatment of acne
- Treatment of bleeding from fibroids
- Treatment of painful periods
- Treatments of unwanted facial hair growth (hirsutism)
- Treatment of heavy menstrual periods
- Treatment of “PMS”—premenstrual syndrome.