Written and medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH
The FDA approved the birth control Pill 57 years ago today. This revolutionized women’s quality of life across the US with its positive impact on society as well as health benefits to women.
The Benefits to Society
- Economic Freedom and Power Researchers at Harvard and the University of Michigan have largely credited the Pill for advancing women’s economic freedom. The Pill enabled women to obtain higher education where they could pursue more lucrative and male-dominated fields such as law and medicine, resulting in huge implications in the US and global economy.
- Increased Productivity One of the top reasons work is missed is due to pain from periods. In a 1984 study, dysmenorrhea (pain from periods) accounted for 600 million lost work hours and $2 billion in lost productivity annually. Birth control pills are used to treat painful periods. Less pain means more productivity and who doesn’t like more productivity?
- Better Education One of the top reasons young women misses school is because of pain from periods. Girls who miss 2 days each month lose 10% of their education. It’s difficult to get educated if young women aren’t at school 😉
- Family Planning Families are able to decide when and how many children they want. The World Health Organization suggests that families space their children at least 18 months apart to allow the woman’s body to recover from the nutritional drain of having a child.
- Fewer Abortions Enabling women to decide when to have children has resulted in fewer unplanned pregnancies, thus making the difficult decision on whether or not they should have a child or not.
The Health Benefits to Women
- Decreased Risk of Cancer Women who use birth control pills for 5 years or more have a 50% decreased risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who don’t use birth control pills. According to the National Cancer Institute, women who use birth control pills have a decreased risk of endometrial (the lining of the uterus) cancer as well. The protection increases the longer you use birth control and continues many years after you stop the medications.
- Less Anemia The number one cause of anemia in a menstruating woman is menstruation. The birth control pill results in lighter periods and thus less blood loss and less anemia.
- Control Over Periods On the birth control pill or ring, women can decide whether or not they want their periods. They can even decide when their periods will come. Read our blog here on how to turn off your periods.
- Decreased Pain from Periods When on the pill, there is less build up of the lining and less blood comes out, and thus there is decreased pain.
- Regular Periods Women can know within one day when she will get her period if she takes her pills regularly. For women with PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the pill is often used to regulate their periods.
- Less Acne The male sex hormone androgen is made in larger amounts during puberty and higher levels of androgens can lead to excess sebum. Birth control (pill, patch, or ring) that contain estrogen and progesterone lowers the amount of androgens in your body. This results in less sebum and less severe acne.
- Less PMS Aka premenstrual syndrome. If you decide to have fewer bleeding days, then you will have fewer days with PMS.
Despite the many benefits of birth control to society and women’s health, the United States is at a turning point. Clinics providing women’s healthcare such as Title X Family Planning clinics face severe funding cuts. Because these clinics provide access to vital services such as birth control, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, and pap smears, reducing access to these services will likely harm society and women’s health.
It’s time for a #PillRevolution where women and families demand that birth control is a human right, so let’s make sure we say #ThankYouBirthControl today!