The Non-Contraceptive Benefits of Oral Contraceptives

The benefits of "the Pill?" Preventing unplanned pregnancies, of course. But that's not all. Oral contraceptives (also commonly known as simply "the Pill") contain progestin and may also contain synthetic estrogen. These hormones can help improve or prevent other health conditions. In fact, according to American Family Physician, the non-contraceptive benefits of birth control pills are so important that some patients use the pills exclusively for those reasons.

A woman putting ointment on her face

Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy / Photo Library / Getty Images

Non-Contraceptive Benefits of Oral Contraceptives

Among the health conditions prevented or improved by taking the Pill: 


Acne is associated with excessive androgen levels, and oral contraceptives reduce the amount of androgen that is available. Just how this works depends on the specific hormone combination in a particular birth control pill. In a study published in American Family Physician, 83% of participants who took a birth control pill containing the hormones ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate reported an improvement in their acne after six months.

Breast Pain

Oral contraceptives help alleviate what's known as "cyclic breast pain"—breast pain specifically linked to your menstrual cycle.


The FDA hasn't approved the use of oral contraceptives for the relief of cramps, but women on the Pill rarely experience menstrual cramps.

Ectopic Pregnancy

The Pill lowers your risk of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere other than the lining of the uterus.


Combination birth control pills (meaning, they contain estrogen and progestin) help prevent and treat endometriosis, which causes painful periods and can lead to fertility issues.

Functional Ovarian Cysts

These are the most common type of ovarian cysts, and they usually dissolve within two menstrual cycles without treatment. Oral contraceptives may help prevent this type of ovarian cyst by preventing ovulation.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of hirsutism which results in excessive amounts of hair in places where men typically grow it—the face, chest, and back. Oral contraceptives can improve or stabilize up to 50 percent of cases caused by PCOS.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

The Pill may help improve anemia in women who have very heavy periods.


Women who experience abnormal bleeding from the uterus can often regulate their menstrual cycle with oral contraceptives if after close medical investigation the abnormal bleeding is not found to be a symptom of a more serious condition. 


Oral contraceptives block the surge of hormones that occurs midway through a menstrual cycle and are often effective in relieving mid-cycle or ovulation pain (mittelschmerz is German for "middle pain").

Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer

Women on the Pill experience these types of cancer at about half the rate of non-users. It's important to note, however, that the Pill may increase your risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer if you've been taking it for more than five years.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Many women on the Pill experience fewer symptoms of PMS. Other treatments and lifestyle modifications provide relief, too. 

Uterine Fibroid Tumors

According to the National Library of Medicine, oral contraceptives may be an effective treatment for uterine fibroid tumors.

A Word From Verywell

The Pill may—or may not—be the right choice for you. If you think it might be right for treating any of the above, be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.