Can Birth Control Pills Negatively Impact Women's Quality Of Life?

Jane Richards
April 21, 2017

However, they also noted that the pill's negative impact on individual women could be of clinical importance.

The risk of depression and other psychological side effects may be small, but its real. (To avoid pregnancy, they were also advised to use a non-hormonal contraceptive.) In screenings before the study began, scores for depressive symptoms and overall quality of life were similar for both groups.

Of course, a study focusing on birth control's negative impact on women's well-being can feel massively out of touch with recent human history.

The team say the results may be partially caused by irregular pill use.

In this study, he says, "it is likely that most of the women starting oral contraceptive pills felt the same or even possibly better, and the small percentage of those who felt worse would be the ones to stop the oral contraceptives here".

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In a slightly concerning statement on the institute's website, the scientists admitted that the medical community knows "surprisingly little" about how the pill can effect a woman's health, and emphasized the need for further studies into the subject. These women reported lower levels of well-being. They were randomly assigned to either placebo pills or hormonal contraception containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel, the most common form of combined birth control in Sweden, where the study took place. It's the most popular birth control pill in Sweden and several other countries, because it's associated with the lowest risk of blood clots.

Research is ongoing into the link between breast cancer and the pill.

"This possible degradation of quality of life should be paid attention to and taken into account in conjunction with prescribing of contraceptive pills and when choosing a method of contraception", said Niklas Zethraeus, associate professor at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics at Karolinska Institutet.

Broadly notes that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 62 per cent of women use some form of birth control. Because the researchers only tested one specific formula, their findings may not apply to pills or contraception options that use different combinations, or different types, of estrogen and progesterone. The findings from the study can not be generalised to other kinds of combined contraceptive pills because they may have a different risk profile and side-effects.

The researchers caution, though, that the effect was small - and it's important to remember that only one method of contraception was studied, so the results can not be applied more broadly.

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