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Since the outbreak of the Zika virus and the rise of babies born with microcephaly, a condition that give babies smaller heads and comes with a lifetime neurological conditions or early death, experts and health official have been working hard to help contain the problem and provide solutions, be it travel warnings, delaying pregnancies, or a vaccine which could take years.
This global health emergency has also raised the issue of contraception and abortion. Even the United Nations and aid organizations have advised officials of countries hit by the virus to make artificial contraception available to women and also grant them the right to terminate a pregnancy should they want to.
Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic community, had hinted that contraception could be an option for women who are at risk of contracting the Zika virus--but he insisted that abortion is a crime. "Abortion is not a theological problem. It is a human problem, medical. One person is killed to save another. It is evil in itself, it is not a religious evil, it is a human evil," the Pope said to reporters while on a flight to Rome returning from his visit to Mexico.
Using artificial contraception such as condoms and pills is considered a sin in the Catholic community. The church have always stood by their stand to use natural family planning methods such as abstaining from having sex during the woman's fertile period. However, the pontiff suggested that in certain cases, there could be an exception. He was referring to his predecessor's decision to authorize nuns at risk of rape in Africa to use contraceptives.
However, before you jump on that option, you cannot just take any brand of pill. You need to consult with an OB-gyn. While 86 percent of women who take birth-control pills is to prevent pregnancy, according to a study, doctors have been prescribing contraceptive pills not just for that. Here are the other conditions pills can help treat.
1. It can help solve irregular periods.
Periods can be a burden for some women--and an irregular one is even worse. And when you suddenly get it, it can interfere with work productivity, for example. "Birth control pills can be used to make irregular or unpredictable periods occur on a monthly basis," according to ReproductiveFacts.org.
2. It can even out your menstrual flow.
There are women who bleed for more than five days--some even for weeks!--and use up tons of pads in the process. For about ten percent of reproductive-age women who exprience this, taking pills can help regulate the period. If not treated, having a heavy flow could lead to anemia.
3. It can treat endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition wherein the lining of the uterus grows outside of it--and this can be very painful once you eventually flush the blood out. Taking birth control pills can limit or temporarily stop the growth of endometriosis to decrease pain associated with heavy period and pelvic pain.
4. It can alleviate menstrual cramps.
"It essentially tricks your body into thinking you're pregnant," says Michael Thomas, M.D., professor and director of reproductive endocrinology and fertility at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Taking birth control pills could lead to less dysmenorrhea.
5. It can make periods more manageable.
Aside from relief from dysmenorrhea, taking birth control pills can also help wreduce migranes, mood swings, nausea, sore breasts, and other ill-effects of having your red days of the month. These side-effects are usually cause by hormones; that's why the pill helps.
6. It can solve your lack of periods.
The menstrual cycle is one of the body’s ways to flush out toxins. However, period delays can stretch for months and it can be uncomfortable. Reasons for amenorrhea, or lack of period could be due to stress or a hormonal imbalance such as having polycystic ovary syndrome.
7. It can help clear your skin.
Aside from having a more comfortable period every months, regulation of hormones via the pill can help with having clearer skin. Hormones can result to acne or excessive hair growth. Believe it or not, some dermatologist prescribe pills for women who'd like better, healthy skin.
8. It can help prevent certain cancers.
"The longer you are on the pill the more protection they offer," says Dr. Eileen Krim, an OB-gyn in North Hills, New York, who's affiliated with North Shore University Hospital. It can also help prevent ovarian cysts since the ovaries "take a rest" or do not produce eggs. A recent study also found that for every five years that a woman takes birth control pills, her risk of endometrial cancerdecreases by nearly a quarter.
February 18, 2016. "Zika virus: Pope hints at relaxation of contraception ban" (bbc.com)
July 3, 2014. "10 Medical Reasons Why a Woman Might Be Prescribed Birth Control" (elle.com)
November 2011. "Beyond Birth Control: The Overlooked BenefitsOf Oral Contraceptive Pills" (guttmacher.org)
"Other Benefits of Birth Control Pills" (webmd.com)
"Fact Sheet: Noncontraceptive Benefits of Birth Control Pills" (asrm.org)