Birth control is great for preventing pregnancy when you're not ready to have a baby.But it also has health benefits.Depending on the method you use, these benefits may include: More predictable, lighter, and less painful periods; clearer skin; treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome; cancer prevention; and STI prevention.Let's get one thing out of the way first: There is nothing wrong or shameful about using birth control only for its primary purpose preventing pregnancy.But it's also good to know that several birth control methods come with additional health benefits bonuses that have nothing to do with controlling birth.Here's an overview of the biggest birth control perks.1. More predictable periodsSome surprises are great. Surprise menstrual bleeding is not. With the combination birth control pill (the kind that contains estrogen and progesterone, hereafter referred to as "the pill"), you can make your period predictable."The pill regulates periods to be once a month or once every three months or even not at all depending on the type of pill that you're taking," gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck, author of "The Complete A to Z for your V," told INSIDER. "So for people who have really irregular cycles, this is helpful."Though some people use them to skip periods altogether which is safe, by the way it typically works like this: You take active hormone-containing pills for the first three weeks, then switch to sugar pills with no hormones for the final week. Every month, you'll know that you can expect your period during that final week.The ring and the patch, which use the same hormones as the pill, also regulate periods, and are used on a similar schedule: You wear the ring or patch for three weeks, then remove it for one week, when you get your period.2. Lighter flow"Some women have such heavy flow that they become anemic as a result," Dweck said. (As a refresher: Anemia is the condition in which your body doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood, leaving you tired, weak, dizzy, or short of breath.)Luckily, certain hormonal methods the pill, patch, ring, shot, hormonal IUDs, and in some people, the implant can all lighten flow.Each month, the uterus builds up a thick lining of blood and tissue in case of a potential pregnancy. (The lining provides nutrients that allow a pregnancy to grow.) If you don't get pregnant, though, you shed the lining through the vagina that's a period. The hormonal birth control methods mentioned above can all thin that uterine lining, making periods get lighter or even disappear. That's why hormonal birth control can treat anemia related to heavy periods or just make heavy periods more tolerable.3. Less painful crampsAll the birth control methods that lighten flow also come with another benefit: Less painful cramps."Menstrual cramps come from chemicals called prostaglandins getting released from the lining of the uterus," gynecologist Dr. Margaret Polaneczky explained to Marie Claire. "A lighter menstrual flow means a thinner uterine lining, and a thinner uterine lining helps lower the release of prostaglandins, which results in fewer cramps.""Tons of women have cramps, whether it's due to endometriosis or just bad luck," Dweck told INSIDER. "The pill tends to really assist with those symptoms and make pain medication less likely, less necessary, and really helps with pain."Again, the ring and the patch, which use the same hormones as the pill, can also help reduce cramp pain. And Dweck said that IUDs can also lessen cramps in some people.4. Clearer skinThe hormones in the pill, patch, and ring can all make acne better, the ACOG says. The pill is even FDA-approved specifically to treat acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). "[It] helps to actually lower the circulating testosterone levels that's what helps with acne," Dweck said. "That's a great benefit. "In women, the AAD explains, male hormones including testosterone can overstimulate skin's oil glands, contributing to acne flares.5. Treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)The pill is often used as a first-line treatment for common condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.PCOS is a reproductive hormone imbalance, Dweck explained, and symptoms can include irregular periods, acne, unwanted hair growth, and weight gain."Women with PCOS go on the pillto keep their periods more manageable," she said. "It lessens the amount of testosterone which causes acne and unwanted hair growth in these young women. This is a really really common reason to put people on the pill."6. Cancer preventionThe pill, patch, and ring all reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).Hormonal IUDs, Dweck added, may also prevent uterine cancer.Studies of the pill in particular show that the longer you're on it, the more ovarian and uterine cancer protection it affords.There is another side to this coin: Some research has found that hormonal birth control methodsslightly increase the risk of breast cancer, and that the pillincreases the risk of cervical cancer. But for many people, the many benefits of birth control outweigh these risks. Talk to your doctor to see what's best for you.7. STI preventionThough they're not the most effective at preventing pregnancy, male condoms and female condoms are the only two forms of birth control that also offer protection against sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. In a world full of serious infections including new, drug-resistant strains of "super gonorrhea" that's good to remember. (Just make sure the condoms you use haven't passed their expiration date.)Better yet: Use condoms in addition to the pill, implant, IUD, or another form of birth control.Sign uphereto get INSIDER's favorite stories straight to your inbox.Join the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: A neuroscientist explains why reality may just be a hallucination Click here to read full news..