No surprises here.

Words by

Veronica Stanford

As a woman, you hear a loooooot of stories about the various side effects that come with taking the pill.

Weight gain, acne, increased risk of having a stroke, headaches and decreased libido are all things we hear on the regular.

Now, a study has confirmed what many women have long known. The pill can, in fact, have a negative effect on your mental health.

The first comprehensive study of how hormonal birth control affects a woman’s wellbeing has only now just been released, thanks to Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

The study took 340 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 35, treating them with either a placebo or contraceptive pill for three months.

No participants knew which pill they were taking and yet the results showed that women who did take the contraceptive pill reported a lower quality of life.

While no significant increase in depressive symptoms were reported in these women, they did note that specific aspects including mood and wellbeing, self-control and energy levels were negatively impacted by the contraceptive.

“Despite the fact that an estimated 100 million women around the world use contraceptive pills we know surprisingly little today about the pill’s effect on women’s health," says Karolinska Institutet professor, Angelica Lindén Hirschberg. 

"The scientific base is very limited as regards the contraceptive pill’s effect on quality of life and depression and there is a great need for randomised studies where it is compared with placebos.”

The study does, however, conclude the changes “were relatively small” and in turn, “must be interpreted with a certain amount of caution.” In saying this, the researchers do believe the results are of clinical importance and we can only hope this leads to more studies in the area.


Holly Engelhardt
Bonnie Kay

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