Does birth control help with severe cramps?

As a woman, there is nothing worse than the dreadful pain that comes with severe menstrual cramps. You know the type – when all you want to do is curl up in bed with a heating pad and binge on chocolate while wondering why anyone would choose to be born female in the first place.

But fear not my fellow menstruators! There may just be a solution out there that can help alleviate your suffering – birth control! Yes, you read that right. Contrary to popular belief, birth control isn’t just for preventing pregnancy; it can also be an effective tool for managing some of the pesky symptoms associated with Aunt Flo’s monthly visit. So let’s explore whether or not birth control can really help ease those inconvenient cramps!

A Brief Overview of Menstrual Cramps

Before we dive into whether or not birth control can provide relief from menstrual cramps, it’s important to understand what causes these unpleasant sensations in the first place.

When you think about it, your uterus is basically creating its own cozy little home every month in preparation for any potential offspring. It does this by building up its lining with extra blood and tissue so that if fertilization occurs, a fertilized egg will have somewhere nice and soft to implant itself.

However, if no egg has been fertilized (or even if one has but didn’t quite make it), then your body decides “welp guess I don’t need this uterine lining anymore!” and proceeds to shed it off like last season’s fashion trends. And during this shedding process is when things start getting painful.

You see, as your uterus contracts and squeezes out all those unwanted tissues through your cervix into your vagina (sorry fellas for making you read about female anatomy!), it releases certain chemicals known as prostaglandins which are responsible for causing inflammation which in turn causes…you guessed it, cramps!

How Birth Control Can Help

Now that we’ve got a basic understanding of what’s going on down there during our periods let’s discuss how birth control plays into all this.

While the primary function of most birth controls is to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries), many types also have other effects that help reduce menstrual symptoms like cramping.

Here are some ways in which certain forms of birth control can potentially contribute towards reducing your monthly pain:

Progestin-only Pills

Also known as “mini pills”, progestin-only pills work by thickening the cervical mucus to impede sperm from reaching and fertilizing any eggs. But besides inhibiting fertility, these little guys can also mitigate period pains because they cause thinning or atrophy – a fancy word for shrinkage – in your uterine lining. As mentioned earlier, one main culprit behind severe cramps is the release of prostaglandins from shedding uterine tissue so if there’s less tissue being shed then you’ll hopefully experience fewer painful contractions!

Combination Pills

Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin and similarly to mini-pills, they function mainly through prevention rather than actively treating menstrual discomforts but their ability to suppress ovulation doesn’t hurt either. Estrogen has been known to make menstrual cycles more regular too so if you’re one who tends to get unpredictable or surprise early/late stowaways once every blue moon (horrible pun intended) , combo pills might be able help regulate things too by promoting consistency in your body’s hormone levels.

But wait, there’s more…

Hormonal IUDs

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) come in two flavors: copper ones (which don’t affect hormones) and hormonal ones that emit levonorgestrel AKA synthetic progestin. Since IUDs are placed directly in your uterus, they’re a great way to deliver medication directly where it counts without having to worry about any missed pills or unexpected drug interactions for other medications you may be taking.

Hormonal IUDs infamously lead to reduced menstrual discomforts and even rely on the thinning of uterine lining like the mini pill but also have been shown to effectively reduce not just cramping but heavy/long periods too in some women! Talk about two birds with one stone.

But is it Really Worth It?

Now before you start jumping for joy at the prospect of finally being able to go through your period sans crippling abdominal agony, there are some potential downsides worth noting about using birth control as pain management.

First off, everyone’s bodies react a bit differently when exposed to hormonal drugs so while birth control can be highly effective for certain individuals, others might experience little or no relief from symptoms. Secondly, depending on what type of contraceptive method you choose there may be other side effects that make it less appealing than just riding out your regular cycle.

For example:

Progestin-related Contraception

Since progestin-only methods tend to cause thinner uterine linings over time (which helps stop menstrual pain) they consequently can also result in light spotting or unpredictable bleeding between periods which can bother some users who want more stability/schedule consistency in their cycles.

Combination Pills

While Combo pills contain both estrogen and progesterone (so relieve symptoms by stopping ovulation AND creating consistency) , estrogen itself has side effects such as increased risk of blood clots (though research suggests that numbers remain very low) along with higher risks for heart attack/stroke especially among smokers,blood pressure issues,dangerous headaches and/or those past 35 years old looking start birth control (YIKES) . Talk about weighing logical risk!

Depo-Provera Shot

And finally, there’s the Depo shot which is essentially just a giant dose of progestin administered through an injection either at your doctor’s office or in some states here in America even via pharmacy drive-thrus (nope, its not the pandemic causing you to hallucinate- it really exists). It reduces signs and symptoms greatly but has more concerning side effects that include slowing bone mineral density accumulation tremendously due constant suppression of estrogen over time. Not to mention once given it lasts 3 months so there isn’t flexibility with unwanted side effects.

Final Thoughts

So while birth control certainly could be worth trying out for anyone seeking relief from menstrual cramps along with other issues; no medication comes without limits -(just ask any suburban mom who likes asking her ‘mindful’ friends for recommendations on microdosing certain questionable substances they read about & eventually need medical attention)- . As always, if you’re weighing your options before indulging hormonal solutions talk things over with a trusted health care professional (or whoever literally actually trained and licensed to address these topics)to hammer out specifics and figure out what type of treatment may be optimal for you!

After all, treating pain should mean treasuring yourself too -your whole self holistically including stopping harmful remedies that nullify one problem only to create another after all your adulting efforts to constantly improve 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 beautifully complex physical natures 💕

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