Any woman who has ever taken the birth control pill knows that it can be a serious business. Forget the stress and pressure of having to remember to take that little pill at the same time every day, there is a boatload of side effects to worry about too. Things like life-threatening blood clots, for example.
Of course, women who have been on the pill could also tell you that all those extra hormones have also been known to mess with their system. Mood swings, depression, irregular menstrual cycles and all-around feelings of malaise are just some of the symptoms women on the pill have historically complained about to baffled health care professionals. Well today those women can feel at least slightly validated, because new science is backing up their claims.
A study out of Sweden confirms that when it comes to quality of life, those women on the birth control pill may suffer more than those who aren’t on it. To complete the study, researchers looked at 340 non-smoking, non-hypertension suffering women between the ages of 18 and 35. Using a double-blind method, 169 of the women were put on a common contraceptive pill while the other 171 were placed on a placebo.
Before the study began, 35 per cent of women from both groups had reported some moderate overall distress in their lives. But after three months of the study that number jumped to 44 per cent for women in the contraceptive group. Furthermore their self-reported levels of distress went from moderate to moderate-to-severe.
These particular women reported such “adverse events” as bleeding disturbances, anxiety and mood changes, acne and changes in appetite. Of the women on the placebo? None of them reported any kind of depression, although two of them noted pregnancy as an “adverse effect.” Yeah, we’d say.
Here’s the good news: being on the pill wasn’t directly linked to depression, just a bunch of depression-related symptoms. But while we’re happy scientists are finally looking into a drug that so many women use as a contraceptive, considering its overall effects on our bodies, there’s a lot more research that needs to be done. After all, what’s three months in the grand scheme of things?
It’s a start at least. And now, the next time we tell our GP we’re feeling off from being on the birth control pill, we have scientific proof to back us up.