Birth control is a powerful tool apart from its ability to prevent pregnancy; it can also treat health issues and help people feel more in control of their reproductive health. More than 99% of all female-identifying people in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44 who have ever had sex have used some
method of birth control, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The Pill is one of the most popular methods; data by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that it's currently used by 15.9% of women and girls. However, with the development of multiple birth control options over the decades, from intra-uterine devices (IUDs) to implants, patches, and shots, people have discovered a wide range of reasons to be grateful for birth control.
Various birth control methods can be beneficial for health conditions. The hormonal birth control pill, for instance, is one of the main methods used to control the symptoms of
polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which the ovaries develop cysts that occurs in one in 10 women, according to the Office of Women's Health. Contraceptives that stop periods, including the birth control implant, can also bring relief for people with endometriosis or painfully heavy periods. Birth control's utility goes well beyond contraception — and these nine people tell Bustle why they're thankful for it. 1 Keisha, 32 Jasenka Arbanas/Moment/Getty Images
"I’ve been on the pill since I was about 16, so I’ve been on it for 16 years (holy shit). I was put on it for contraceptive reasons, but then at 21 was diagnosed with
polycystic ovary syndrome. The Pill is a great way to stop eggs turning into cysts, because it prevents eggs from being released.
"At 27 I had my large intestine removed due to severe
ulcerative colitis. This led to extremely painful sugar pill week periods, because everything was a bit of a mess in my gut/reproductive organs, so I’ve been skipping my sugar pill week for about five years and it’s just made me love the pill even more. Oh, and my skin care routine is basically ‘take the pill, put on sunscreen’." 2 Roisin, In Her 20s
"I’ve been on some version of the pill since I was 14. It has
helped me control my periods and also allowed me to have a free and controlled sex life. I also work in an abortion clinic and see it constantly change women and girls' lives daily. Bless you, birth control." 3 Grace, 26 Towfiqu Photography/Moment/Getty Images
endometriosis, and when I was a teenager the Pill was definitely a big help! I had the operation [to remove endometriosis deposits] when I was 18 and haven’t really needed it since as my pain isn’t as bad as it used to be (not gone, but better), but if it ever got worse again I would definitely go back on the Pill to help." 4 Anna, In Her 30s
"I overcame cancer and started a company to solve the problems I encountered in the medical industry. Five years later, we are
running a cancer study specifically aimed at early detection for women in breast, lung and endometrial cancer. I am thankful for the regular periods that hormonal birth control typically provides to participants in the trial. A regular flow has allowed us to capture valuable information on a monthly basis." 5 Deborah, 49 Rattanakun Thongbun / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
"I chose to not have children and no longer need birth control because I
had a hysterectomy, but I was on it in some form for 22 years. I believe in, and I’m thankful for, birth control for a variety of reasons. I believe that women should have the right to own and control their own bodies. That just feels like a very basic human right. It’s about human dignity and freedom.
"Not every woman needs or wants to mother and should have these choices while also retaining the human right to pursuing sexual autonomy and pleasure. Sex is not only about procreation!"
6 Melissa, 39
"I am thankful for my birth control (intrauterine device or IUD) because my menstrual cycles has almost completely ceased. Instead of having a cycle every four weeks, now I have one maybe two or three times a year. This has been life-changing! For women who have longer duration or heavier periods, you have to plan your life around them. I don’t have that concern anymore. IUDs also
reduce risk for many types of reproductive cancers." 7 Te-Ana, 36
"I am thankful for
the freedom to choose. In a world and country where our choices and autonomy over our bodies is fleeting, I am grateful that, at least for now, we get to choose what we put into our bodies and that there are now more natural alternatives and options for birth control that are becoming mainstream. We have taken our power back and removed the stigma around being sexually active.
"We are sexual beings and it is okay to decide what works best for us and our bodies and health. I feel more confident in my right to decide today than I have ever felt."
8 Beverley, 30 PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images
"I am thankful for birth control because of its
ability to control my (hormonal) breakouts. As an adult, it's not always easy to admit you have to see a dermatologist because of acne and still struggle with what skincare products to use to control blemishes. But if it's as simple as taking a pill, sign me up! After all, there must be another reason we call it " the pill" above all the other pills. It really can do it all." 9 Ciara, 27
"I went on birth control right when I graduated college and was a little hesitant at first because I was nervous about the side effects the hormones would cause. However, I have found it to be life-changing!
"I'd say the biggest reason I'm thankful for birth control is that it's
given me manageable periods. My periods are so much shorter, on-time, and I have barely any cramps. From someone who used to have to leave school or work early and get into fetal position due to the pain, this has been a huge game-changer. Thank you birth control!"
The right birth control can make a big difference to life — and our right to reproductive freedom has never been more important. Thanks, birth control.