In 1960 when the birth control pill was first introduced there was some debate over whether or not government funded clinics were using it to sterilize Black women without their permission. Today, though, the pill has gained more trust and gained some benefits along the way.
Though the benefits outweigh the risks they are still very real. Some of the side effects -- like nausea, sore breasts or spotting between periods -- are just annoying and can be avoided by changing the time of day you take the pill or switching brands. Other side effects are more serious but rare, like in increase risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots or yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Now that we got the negatives out of the way, here are five positive reasons to take the pill that have nothing to do with preventing pregnancy:
— Acne and unwanted hair can be embarrassing but these are among the two most popular improvements across pill brands. Androgens and testosterone levels, which are related to body hair on the face, chest and stomach, are regulated on the pill. Black women get hit twice as hard in this situation because the texture of their hair usually causes unsightly hair bumps too.
— The pill can also be a huge help if you experience heavy or sporadic menstrual bleeding. As a bonus, this lowers the risk of iron deficiency anemia, which is when your red blood cells get low in iron, making you feel tired. This is a more common condition among Black women. Heavy bleeding is also tied to period cramps, which usually aren’t as bad when you take the pill.
— Endometriosis, a condition that affects 6.3 million women, is also improved by the pill. A painful disease triggered by the menstrual cycle, endometriosis is when tissue from your uterus makes its way into other parts like your abdomen on the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Those that suffer have a greater risk of developing ovarian cysts when they don’t take an oral contraception.
— Both uterine and ovarian cancer are one of the most common cancers among Black women and the risk can also be reduced but only for regular pill users taking it for more than a year. The longer you take the pill the more likely you are to not develop these diseases and your protection is good for at least 15 years after you stop taking it.
— Though the pill does not protect against HIV and STIs it does reduce your chance of getting pelvic inflammatory disease, a bacterial infection in the fallopian tubes and uterus that can cause severe pain and sometimes even infertility. Black women have a high risk of PID and by reducing it’s risk, oral contraception also reduces the risk of ectopic pregnancy, which is when an egg develops outside of the uterus, generally within one of the tubes.