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One of the most common forms of contraception, birth control pills are used to prevent pregnancy. Besides preventing pregnancy, some types of birth control pills are also approved for treating acne and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Occasionally, healthcare providers may recommend off-label uses for birth control pills, such as treating endometriosis, irregular menstrual periods, and hirsutism.

What Are Birth Control Pills Used For?

Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) are a popular form of contraception. They have become so popular because they provide numerous benefits, such as:
  • Effective, relatively easy-to-use birth control (not messy, discrete)
  • Decreased risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus)
  • Lighter menstrual bleeding (which decreases the risk of anemia)
  • Less menstrual pain
  • Regular menstrual cycles.
While all birth control pills are approved for preventing pregnancy, some are approved for additional purposes. These uses include the treatment of:
  • Acne (see Birth Control Pills and Acne for a discussion on which pills work best for this condition)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, also known as PMDD (Yaz® is currently the only birth control pill approved for this use).
Also, two medications (Plan B® and Ella®) are not birth control pills in the traditional sense, but are approved for emergency contraception (the "morning after pill").
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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