Millions of women around the world use the contraceptive pill, and there have been reports for many years that it can have a negative impact on moods and mental health. There’s a lot of conflicting information and research on the topic.
For example, one study, which was published in 2016, found that it women taking the combined pill were 23% more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than those not using any hormonal contraception. For women taking the progestin only pill the figure was even higher at 34%.
“We have known for decades that women’s sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, have an influence on many women’s mood. Therefore, it is not very surprising that also external artificial hormones acting in the same way and on the same centers as the natural hormones might also influence women’s mood or even be responsible for depression development,” said lead author of the study Dr. Øjvind Lidegaard, a professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
However, the results of new research that’s been carried out has shown a contradicting result. The analysis looked at data collected from previous studies conducted in the last thirty years and found no correlation between the progestin only birth or combined control pill and depression.
Dr. Brett Worly, lead author of the new study and OB-GYN at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center commented that: “Based on our findings, it shouldn’t be a concern for most women, and they should feel comfortable knowing they’re making a safe choice.”
“The study last year was a population health study that observed a relationship between birth control and mood. We didn’t look at mood changes and feeling down because those are difficult to measure. We looked specifically at depression. We found hormonal contraception to be a safe, effective way to prevent pregnancy that will not cause depression in most women”
Dr Ali Kubba, a fellow of the faculty of sexual and reproductive healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, noted that further research is needed. He said: “There is existing clinical evidence that hormonal contraception can impact some women’s moods, however, from this study there is no way of linking causation, therefore further research is needed to examine depression as a potential adverse effect of hormonal contraceptive use.
He added: “All women react differently to different methods of contraception. There are a variety of contraception methods on offer including the pill, implants, injections, intrauterine devices, and vaginal rings and we therefore advise women to discuss their options with a doctor, where they will discuss the possible side-effects and decisions around the most suitable method can be made jointly.”