Many of our families have asked about the use of hormonal birth control in adolescents. The question pertained to young women who are not sexually active, and do not plan to become sexually active, but rather, are looking to help mitigate extreme menstrual symptoms.
The short answer is…there is no one answer. Like any medical intervention, the risks and benefits need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
In certain instances, underdeveloped hormones can cause a young woman to have severe menstrual symptoms, that might include:
· Severe mood problems, including depression and anger that can impact a relationships and the girl’s ability to function;
· Debilitating pain that would keep a girl from going to school, or competing and training in extracurricular activities; or
· Abnormally heavy bleeding that soaks two to three pads an hour or puts a girl at risk for blood loss and anemia.
Low dose hormonal interventions can help alleviate these debilitating symptoms by leveling out a young woman’s hormones until her own hormones develop appropriately. In cases where hormones have been deemed appropriate, it is preferable to use them only for a transition period of 6 -12 months. After this transition period, symptoms should be markedly improved, at which point a young woman should feel more comfortable and confident managing her menstrual symptoms.
Hormonal birth controls have been refined tremendously over the last 20 years, and there are now very low dose combinations that can safely achieve excellent results. HOWEVER, there are still instances where the use of hormones is contraindicated (ex. family history).
If your daughter is suffering from debilitating menstrual symptoms, feel free to call us, or schedule a visit to discuss these symptoms with one of our female providers. Dr. Mulhausen, Dr. James and Dr. Lurie have all received additional GYN training. Their kind and gentle demeanors will help your daughters feel comfortable discussing these sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable topics.
We hope this helped shed SOME light on how we assess whether or not the use of hormonal birth control is appropriate.