The Pros and Cons of Using Birth Control For Dysmenorrhea
Updated: May 30, 2022
I’ve had dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and menorrhagia (heavy bleeding) for a long time now. Before heading off to college in 2016, I decided to try birth control. And guess what? It worked! Birth control is a viable option for many women who have dysmenorrhea, whether primary or secondary, but it's not without its problems.
After being on and off of the pill for a couple of years now, I wanted to share with you some pros and cons of using birth control. This is all based on my personal experience:
Pro #1 - It works!
Birth control worked relatively quickly for me, and it makes a huge difference. I can get out of bed on the first day of my period, whereas I would typically be bed ridden and vomiting for most of the day. My cramps and bleeding are lighter, my nausea is manageable, and I'm able to move around (to an extent) without feeling sick.
It helps me mentally as well. I usually experience depression and anxiety before and during my period. On the first day, the pain can be so debilitating that it leads to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. When I take birth control my mood swings are not as intense.
Con #1 Feeling Out of Sync
One con however, is that I feel out of sync with my body. I rely a lot more on what row of pills I'm on to tell me when my period is coming, instead of noting the changes in my body and the symptoms I'm experiencing.
This may seem fine, but it can actually lead to problems such as: nutrition issues, poor self-care, and overworking myself.
I still need to incorporate fruits and vegetables into my diet. I still need rest and relaxation, and I still need to take a break from work. But, because I believe that I can push through as long as I take these pills, there are many times when I simply don't do what's good for me.
Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, a holistic reproductive health practitioner, fertility awareness educator and author, said this on Instagram, "You're not having a true menstrual cycle or a real period when you are on the pill. Instead the pill suppresses your cycle, and you experience 'withdrawal bleeding' between pill packs."
When I read that, I realized that someone had clearly expressed what I was experiencing. Taking birth control definitely feels like a pseudo-period, and now I know why. This is likely the reason I feel out of sync, because my actual menstrual cycle is being "suppressed".
Pro #2 - More Freedom
When I wasn't on birth control, I would often have to cancel my plans. I wasn't even able to go to my high-school graduation because of my period! I had to miss school at times or leave early.
As I became more familiar with my cycle, I would try not to make plans during the week that I was likely to start my period.
I had to constantly plan around my cycle, but with birth control, I have more freedom. I can plan events without thinking about what to do if my period comes.
Con #2 - It’s only a cover up.
While birth control is very effective, I do not believe that it is a long-term solution. In November of 2021, I took a break from using birth control. Just like that, my period was back to being extremely painful.
Birth control is not a cure for dysmenorrhea, and in my experience you also may still deal with some of the symptoms you had before, but a much milder version. For example, I have had a couple of times where I vomited the day before my period, even though I was taking the pill. Many of the symptoms that I had are still there, just more spread out and less drastic.
Overall, using oral contraceptives has been a huge blessing in my life. It has allowed me to do the work that I’m doing now, without taking as many days off. It’s also helped me mentally, because my periods were so debilitating that they were causing serious mental health concerns. Birth control definitely has its pros and cons, and is not the best option for everyone, but for me it's been a great temporary solution.
I hope this blog helped you! Please be sure to check out the 5 Day December Challenge if you’re like me and deal with PMS symptoms, or just want to get some self care in before your period starts.
Updated: January 4, 2022
Disclaimer: Amber’s Care should not replace medical advice. If you have questions about the following statements, please consult a doctor.