Why Birth Control Pills Might Be Making You Feel Bad

For a lot of ladies, contraception capsules present big advantages. They shield in opposition to unplanned pregnancies, can cut back signs of PMS and different hormonal points and would possibly decrease the chance of endometrial and ovarian most cancers. However for others, oral contraceptives may have a draw back, and many ladies cease taking them as soon as they begin.

A brand new examine might provide some perception into what’s occurring with these not-so-satisfied prospects. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial printed within the journal Fertility and Sterility, Swedish researchers discovered that oral contraceptives had a small detrimental influence on ladies’s high quality of life.

The capsule used within the examine contained a mix of ethinylestradiol (a kind of estrogen) and levonorgestrel (a kind of progesterone). It’s the most well-liked contraception capsule in Sweden and several other different international locations, as a result of it’s related to the bottom threat of blood clots. It’s frequent in america, as effectively.

Researchers assigned 340 wholesome ladies, ages 18 to 35, to take both contraception capsules or a placebo for 3 months. (To keep away from being pregnant, they have been additionally suggested to make use of a non-hormonal contraceptive.) In screenings earlier than the examine started, scores for depressive signs and general high quality of life have been comparable for each teams.


After three months, nevertheless, the ladies who’d been taking the lively capsules estimated their general high quality of life to be decrease than those that had been taking placebos. Earlier than remedy, about 35% of each teams reported moderate-to-severe misery basically well-being; afterward, that quantity rose to 38% within the placebo group, and 44% in the contraception group. Scores for self-control and vitality have been additionally decrease in the contraception group in comparison with the placebo group after remedy.

Alternatively, the researchers didn’t discover a rise in melancholy or nervousness charges for both group; nor did they discover a lower basically well being. (About 7% of each teams had average to extreme depressive signs, each earlier than and after the three-month interval.) Earlier research have linked hormonal contraception to melancholy, nevertheless, together with a 2016 Danish examine of multiple million ladies.

Lead writer Dr. Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, professor of ladies’s and youngsters’s well being on the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, says that medical doctors know surprisingly little about oral contraceptives’ results on ladies’s well being, even supposing an estimated 100 million ladies world wide use them. There’s a necessity for extra placebo-controlled research, she provides, particularly within the space of psychological well being and well-being.

As for why contraception capsules might have an effect on these areas, the researchers have a number of theories. Hormonal modifications, like a lower in testosterone or a rise in progesterone, could also be concerned. (Progesterone, they observe, has been proven to have a sedative impact on the mind.) Negative effects might also play a job: 21% of the ladies in the contraception group reported bleeding disturbances, nervousness and temper modifications, zits or urge for food modifications, versus 12% within the placebo group.

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The examine authors level out that the quality-of-life modifications they noticed have been comparatively small, and say their outcomes must be interpreted with warning. However, they add, the findings may recommend vital results amongst particular person ladies—and could also be a contributing trigger to irregular use or stoppage of contraception prescriptions.

Dr. Charles Ascher-Walsh, director of gynecology and urogynecology at Icahn College of Medication at Mount Sinai, agrees that the impact famous within the examine isn’t very giant from a medical standpoint. “It solely takes just a few ladies within the examine to really feel worse to convey the averages down,” he explains.

Ascher-Walsh, who was not concerned within the examine, says the findings aren’t very stunning—particularly contemplating that as much as 40% of ladies don’t proceed on oral contraceptives as soon as beginning. “This can be for a wide range of causes,” he says, “however definitely a few of them are going to be associated to a poorer sense of well-being.”

On this examine, he says, “it’s probably that a lot of the ladies beginning oral contraceptive capsules felt the identical and even presumably higher, and the small share of those that felt worse can be those to cease the oral contraceptives right here.”

Within the U.S., contraception capsules that mix etinylestradiol and levonorgestrel embody Seasonale, Seasonique, Amethyst, Nordette, Levora, Portia and others. As a result of the researchers solely examined one particular method, their findings might not apply to capsules or contraception choices that use totally different combos, or differing types, of estrogen and progesterone.

Lindén Hirschberg says that the findings mustn’t discourage medical doctors from prescribing contraception, however that they need to focus on these potential results with sufferers—“notably with those that have earlier expertise of temper problems,” she instructed Well being.com through e-mail.

Ascher-Walsh feels the identical means. “It definitely is not a cause to not attempt it,” he says. “However a accountable doctor ought to warn their sufferers that some ladies usually do not feel effectively on the capsule and, if this seems to be the case, alternate options can be found.”

This article initially appeared on Well being.com