Using hormonal birth control to manage period problems like cramping and mood changes is pretty normal, especially amongst adolescent women. Learn why this can lead to health issues and how you might be able to find a more effective way of managing cycle problems.

A lot of women ask me, "What about if I just take birth control to manage my symptoms related to my period?" 

Birth control will be effective for managing some of the symptoms that are related to your period, but there's some significant downsides to using it. A couple things I really want you to know about this: giving adolescents oral contraceptives triples their risk for suicide, it increases their risk for depression by almost 80%, and significantly increases their risk for osteoporosis. And for women who are not adolescents, those risks are all also included, just not to the same degree that it is for adolescents. 

More importantly, when you're taking birth control as a means to control your cycle, not as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies (don't get me wrong, birth control is very effective for that) you're actually masking symptoms that are giving you a lot of really important information about your health. So what I've often seen in my clinical work is that women would have bad periods when they were younger, and they would start taking birth control pills to manage it. Fast forward 10 years to when they want to stop using birth control and now their cycle is really in trouble. 

They are having severe periods or having really bad PMS. All of that has been going on in the background, while the birth control has been basically masking those symptoms. And unfortunately, a lot of those women get off birth control pills when they're ready to have a baby. And now they've got fertility issues because they didn't realize that the signals were there all along. That's the main reason why you don't want to use birth control to manage your symptoms. You want to use your menstrual cycle as a feedback loop to tell you what's working and not working and fix it along the way so you don't have problems down the road.

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