All medications come with the risk of side effects and for hormonal birth control, these risks have always been thought of as physical issues, such as blood clots. Now a new study out of the University of Copenhagen has found that there is a link between depression and hormonal contraceptives.
The large-scale study followed more than one million women, between the ages of 15-34, for 13 years and found that women taking progestin-only pills or mini pills were 34 per cent more likely to suffer from depression, while those using combined oral contraceptives were 23 per cent more likely. For teens, the side effects were even more troubling–80 per cent of the teens suffered from depression after using combined oral contraceptives, a rate that was significantly heightened by the use of progestin-only pills.
For those getting ready to throw out their pill packs and switch to another hormonal birth control method, don’t be too eager. The patch, the ring and hormonal IUS/coils were found to induce depression in participants at an even higher rate than combined oral contraceptives and progestin-only pills.
The researchers found that “Use of hormonal contraception, especially among adolescents, was associated with subsequent use of antidepressants and a first diagnosis of depression, suggesting depression as a potential adverse effect of hormonal contraceptive use.”
So, what does that mean for women? With male contraceptive products still not close to being market-ready, the responsibility of birth control falling onto women has a much more damaging effect than simply the burden of stopping unwanted pregnancies, which alone is a heavy task.
As one writer noted, the medical community’s move to place the burden of birth control on women is not only systemic sexism, but now we know also has confirmed medical repercussions on a woman’s emotional and mental health. With women twice as likely to experience depression as men, this study proves that changes in the medical community need to be made immediately.
The researchers of this study plan on also examining the link between taking hormonal birth control and attempting or committing suicide, an area that, in light of this sobering study, unfortunately now seems necessary.
Although not all women taking hormonal birth control suffer from depression, it’s important to support and aid the women who have experienced it.