Common Birth Control Side Effects
If the Pill makes you woozy, try the ring or the patch.MasterfileHormone-based birth control often comes with side effects that can range from slightly annoying to bad enough to make you switch. You may not know what you can tolerate until you’ve given a couple of them a try. But here are some solutions for the most common problems.
Headache, dizziness, breast tendernessBe patient. “These side effects seem to go away after you’ve been taking the Pill for a while,” says Hilda Hutcherson, MD, an ob-gyn professor at Columbia University. If they don’t, switching brands may help.
Breakthrough bleeding“I think this is the side effect that drives women crazier than any other side effect,” says Dr. Hutcherson, mostly because it’s so unpredictable. Taking the Pill at precisely the same time every day may help. Especially with shots, the mini-Pill, and the implantthe progestin-only methodsthe lining of the uterus is so thin that it sometimes sloughs off a little bit.
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Adrenal And Thyroid Health
Hypothyroid women are more prone to having depression and anxiety.
The adrenal glands help regulate inflammation. When function is compromised, this can also lead to mood symptoms.
Medications With Depression As A Side Effect
What are the medications with depression as a side effect? These were among the most common ones listed:
- acid reflux medications like omeprazole, esomeprazole, ranitidine, and famotidine
- allergy medications like montelukast and cetirizine
- anxiety medications like alprazolam, diazepam, and lorazepam
- birth control and hormone therapy, which includes anything containing estrogen
- blood pressure medications like atenolol, metoprolol, enalapril, and quinapril
- pain medications like ibuprofen, cyclobenzaprine, hydrocodone, and tramadol
- antiseizure medications like gabapentin, topiramate, and lamotrigine.
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Can Hormonal Birth Control Trigger Depression
- By Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor
Over the years, more than a few patients in my womens health practice have told me that their hormonal birth control the pill, patch, ring, implant, injection, or IUD made them feel depressed. And its not just my patients: several of my friends have felt the same way. And its not just me who has noticed this decades of reports of mood changes associated with these hormone medications have spurred multiple research studies.
While many of these did not show a definitive association, a critical review of this literature revealed that all of it has been of poor quality, relying on iffy methods like self-reporting, recall, and insufficient numbers of subjects. The that it was impossible to draw any firm conclusions from the research on this birth control and depression.
The Pill And Where It Came From
At first, the pill was only prescribed to women with severe menstrual issues, and it was not until 1969 that it became legal to prescribe the pill for contraceptionthat was only 50 years ago!
Reported side effects of the first pill included headaches, nausea, dizziness, and blood clots. But most importantly, side effects of the pill also included a lack of full disclosure and a large lack of relevant research on the psychological effects of the pill.
Since the 1960s, the information available on birth control options has grown, as have birth control options available to women, but knowledge gaps and misinformation surrounding birth control remains prevalent. With the new options available an even wider array of birth control side effects exist. Hopefully, these risks are being more readily researched and openly discussed. The sad truth is, research on the pill was often written in a way that dismissed its effects on womens mental health the misinformation persists today.
So, lets dig into the underreported emotional side effects of hormonal birth control in the form of the contraceptive pill. Just as a note, other forms of hormonal birth control apart from the pill include, the NuvaRing, the Patch, Nexplanon , and hormonal IUDs . Though the side effects of all these birth control options vary, hormonal birth control is often associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
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Hormonal Birth Control Isn’t Likely To Cause Depression
- Birth control isn’t likely to cause depression, though it can cause side effects like mood changes.
- However, some research has found that certain types of hormonal birth control may increase the risk of depression, particularly in teens.
- Medical experts say you should talk with your doctor if you’re considering hormonal birth control, especially if you have a history of mood disorders.
- This article was medically reviewed by G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, OB/GYN Lead at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide to Depression.
Some forms of birth control like the pill, patch, hormonal IUDs, and the depo shot contain synthetic versions of hormones like progesterone and estrogen, which are meant to of pregnancy.
But the synthetic versions of these hormones have been linked to certain side effects, including mood changes, weight gain, decreased libido, and headaches. While it is unlikely that birth control causes depression, research has found that they may be associated. Here’s what you need to know.
Contraception Symptom Relief And Depression: The Overlooked Side Effect Of Hormonal Birth Control
When a Thousand Oaks 16-year-old started taking birth control pills, she hoped it would relieve her symptoms of endometriosis. The pill provided some relief, but the severe effects it had on her mood were staggering.
I almost felt completely different. Happiness was extremely hard to achieve, and I didnt realize how bad it had become until I stopped crying every single day, the 16-year-old who requested to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 65% of American women between the ages of 15 and 49 are using contraception. Of that 65%, about 37% are teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 who are using a form of hormonal birth control.
Oral contraceptives mainly come in two forms: The combination pill combines synthetic estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation and thin uterine lining and cervical mucus, and the mini-pill contains synthetic progesterone that thins the uterine lining and cervical mucus, and some brands also prevent ovulation. Other forms of hormonal birth control include the patch, ring, implant, shot and hormonal Intrauterine Device, known as the IUD.
These work similarly to the birth control pill, but they are not taken orally. The ring and hormonal IUD release hormones locally.
The study showed a 70% higher rate of depression diagnoses in 15-19-year-old females using combination birth control pills compared to those who werent.
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The Problem With The Research On Hormonal Birth Control
A peculiar puzzle has emerged. Many prior studies in the U.S. were released over the years when birth control was still relatively new . For years the studies stated that hormonal birth control had no impact on womens emotions. Despite these studies, many women continued to self-report that the pill led to negative emotions, mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
So what gives?
The sad truth is womens health is often under-addressed in many circumstances. Womens health care in the U.S. is often ranked last out of the major developed countries. This could explain those sneaky claims from earlier studies reporting no link between hormonal birth control and depression occurred despite women self-reporting negative mental health symptoms while taking birth control.
With the times changing, those research claims are changing too today many studies are showing that there is indeed a link between hormonal birth control and increased risks of depression and anxiety. As noted earlier, the large majority of these studies reveal a correlation to depression and anxiety at the onset of taking the pill, which is particularly worsened if the patient is already prone to these mood symptoms.
Piecing The Puzzle Together
Lidegaard said he and his team are working on a similar study assessing whether theres an association between taking hormonal birth control and attempting or committing suicide.
And experts are calling for more research that could flesh out the findings of the Danish study. I hope that a study like this helps somebody get funding for the prospective study thats really needed comparing to condom and copper IUD users, said Dr. Katharine OConnell White, an OB/GYN at Boston University.
Researchers still dont understand what effect, if any, hormonal contraception may have on depression risk. But they emphasize that even if a link exists, the baseline risk remains very small the vast majority of women can and do use hormonal contraception without any mental health problems. Experts message for women: Dont be afraid to use hormonal contraception.
Often you have to take each study as a piece of the puzzle, and as we go along we get a better picture of what the puzzle is going to look like, said Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a Bay Area OB/GYN. I think its really important not to sound alarms based on individual puzzle pieces.
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Whole Person Vs Measured Outcomes
No one is really asking the question of what happens when we interrupt hormonal pathways and disrupt the natural process within the body. They look to certain variables, but never really the whole person. And to their credit, that is a difficult thing to study.
Let us also not forget, studies dont take into account all the unforeseen variables of your life that can put you at risk.
But what it all comes down to is, what is true for you? What is your normal? And what is your experience since starting hormonal birth control?
Can Hormonal Birth Control Affect Mental Health
Many women report that they stopped taking hormonal birth control because it caused depression. Researchers still dont have clear evidence of the link between hormonal birth control and mood, but recent evidence suggests that women who are using hormonal birth control may experience higher rates of depression.
If youre considering or currently using a form of hormonal birth control, youll want to learn a little bit about what is known today about hormonal birth control and depression.
The role that hormones play
Once they reach puberty, women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a mood disorder or a cyclical mood disorder. Experts believe that estrogen and progesterone, the most important female sex hormones for puberty, play a role in this. Estrogen and progesterone help regulate womens sexual and reproductive development.
How does hormonal birth control factor in?
Hormonal birth control contains either estrogen, progestin, or both, depending on the type you use. Increased amounts of these hormones prevent pregnancy, and cause the more common side effects of birth control, like a lighter period, a thicker cervical mucus, or sore breasts.
Because these hormones have mood-related effects, there has always been a question of whether or not hormonal birth control causes side effects like depression.
What does the research say?
What other factors could be at play?
The bottom line?
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Going Off Birth Control Cured My Depression And Gave Me Back My Sex Drive
Im 27 years old, and like a lot of women, I was put on birth control pills shortly after starting my period. If you had asked me at any point in the past, I would have told you I had never experienced an adverse side effect from my birth control. On the contrary, I loved and appreciated it for giving me reproductive autonomy while improving my acne-prone skin and taking the guesswork out of dealing with Aunt Flo.
My decision to quit the pill five months ago was about 65 percent a result of forgetting to go to the pharmacy and 35 percent curiosity to see if my body was capable of remembering how to menstruate on its own.
As it turns out, after spending half my life on birth control, going off it has been nothing short of a revelation one that has made me question why I spent half my life trying to convince myself that the mild mental and physical symptoms I experienced over the years were natural, even when they happened to be some of the most common side effects attributed to the pill.
Practically overnight, my lubrication levels went from zero to ripe papaya and for someone who has spent their life suffering through relatively uncomfortable, sometimes painful, under-lubricated sex, this was huge. The change was so noticeable that I wondered if there might be something wrong with me, until I began to read the abundant accounts of other women whose sex drives were temporarily extinguished by birth control.
Can Going Off Birth Control Cause Depression
Birth control affects every woman differently. Some women may notice significant changes when coming off birth control, while others will notice no changes at all.
No studies so far prove that coming off birth control can cause depression. However, some women may experience changes to their mood if they cease their hormonal contraception.
One study found that in some women, being on hormonal contraception can stabilize symptoms related to mood and may reduce mood-related symptoms in women with psychiatric disorders. Women with psychiatric disorders who experience improvements in mood related to taking hormonal birth control may notice a worsening of symptoms when they cease use.
Due to the changes in hormones, some women may feel more irritable or experience mood shifts when they come off hormonal birth control. Other women may not notice this at all.
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Hormonal Contraceptives Are For Healthy People
Remember that oral contraceptives and hormonal birth control have all been designed with a healthy woman in mind. Studies also aim to eliminate anyone who has a diagnosis that could skew results.
So, if you’re a woman who already has a preexisting condition, like autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, an adrenal condition or a mood disorder, starting off with these hormones may just be a recipe for disaster in your body.
Sadly, many women and young girls are being put on these hormones to treat symptoms, such as acne, irregular periods, PCOS, or extremely painful periods. Hey, you name the period problem, and you’re going to get a prescription from your doctor for some hormonal suppression.
I take issue with using the pill to mask symptoms and telling a woman that this is the only way to fix her hormones.
They dont fix your hormones. And if youve had a suspicion this is true, but fear to return to nightmare periods then girl, I got you. You need to attend my free masterclass called The Pill Free Period.
And please ladies, this is in no way judgement if you use hormones to manage symptoms. I did it too. But I want you to know you have options.
Anxiety And Depression In Women
Basic contraceptive knowledge is a critical component of health care for female patients, and here we focus on women with psychiatric disorders, says corresponding author Katherine Wisner, MD, the Norman and Helen Asher Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the director of the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders.
Anxiety and depressive disorders are among the most common diseases in women of reproductive age, Dr. Wisner explains. The prevalence of mental illness is higher among women than men , and young adults are at the highest risk.
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Mood Swings And Hormonal Birth Control
When beginning the pill, mood swings can be a common indicator of an onset of emotional changes. The mood swings can be characterized by anger, sudden onset of tears, feelings of lack of joy, etc. If you notice these symptoms do not waste any time and set up a time to see your doctor. The earlier you can address the symptoms the better. From personal experience, sometimes doctors will advise you to stay on the pill, promising these feelings will level out. Worse, one doctor shared that she knows of other colleagues who will tell patients the feelings are all in their heads.
If it feels like a doctor is brushing aside the very real emotional symptoms you are experiencing, try getting a second opinion. Your emotions and mental health matter and you should not have to suffer from depression and anxiety in exchange for contraception. When you visit a doctor, discuss potential alternative contraceptive options if the symptoms feel unbearable . And if you have a history of anxiety or depression be sure to share that with your doctor too.
Is Depression A Side Effect Of The Pill
There have been questions as to whether or not the pill which is a form of birth control can cause depression in women as a side effect. Although this is something that some people are worried about, there is currently no evidence to back up this claim.
A study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that showed the exact opposite of women getting depressed. In this study 6,654 women in the age group of 25 to 34 were split into two groups made up of those who used hormonal birth control methods like the pill, patch, and ring and those who used non hormonal birth control like condoms, and diaphragms. These women were a part of four surveys between 1994 and 2008. A week after they took part in the survey the results showed that the women were less likely to have symptoms of depression.
One of the statistics that helped prove this case was that the women in the study were 32 percent less likely to have symptoms of depression than the other women. Another was that they were over 60 percent less likely to have reports of attempting suicide in a years time.
Dr. Katherine Keyes who was the author of the study in the Journal of Epidemiology told Reuters This counters somewhat some of the prevailing wisdom that hormone contraceptive use in general is associated with adverse mental health outcomes in women.
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