Do you feel irritable or depressed before your period? Are you using birth control pills as your mode of contraception? While may be tempting to blame your premenstrual bad moods on the birth control pill, there’s little solid evidence to support this idea. What is the association between birth control pills and mood? Can they really affect mood?
One of the most common reasons women choose to discontinue use of birth control pills is the perception that they negatively affect mood. The mood changes reported by birth control pill users include premenstrual depression, fluctuations in mood, anxiety, irritability, and loss of libido. Although various studies have looked at the association between birth control pills and mood, most have shown inconsistent results.
A study conducted on almost 7,000 women and published in American Family Physician found that 16.3 percent of women on birth control pill reported a decline in their mood after starting birth control pills. Interestingly, another 12.3 percent actually experienced an improvement in mood, while the vast majority reported no change while on the pill. The results certainly don’t suggest that the birth control pill affects mood in a major way. It was noted that women who had a history of depression prior to taking oral contraceptives were more likely to experience worsening of their mood after starting oral contraceptives. They also found that women who experienced significant menstrual cramps were more likely to report positive mood effects after starting birth control pills.
What does all this mean? Overall, the researchers didn’t feel that birth control pills significantly affect mood with the exception of women with a previous history of depression or women who suffer from significant menstrual cramps. Birth control pills generally cause improvement in symptoms of menstrual cramps which could account for the mood improvement in these women.
What’s the bottom line when it comes to birth control pills and mood? Unless you have a history of depression prior to starting the birth control pill, there’s little evidence to suggest that starting the pill will negatively affect your mood. If you do have a history of depression or other mental health problems, it may be healthier to consider other forms of birth control. Keep in mind that there are other health issues associated with the use of birth control pills. They may not be the best choice if you smoke due to an increased risk of blood clots. Some studies also suggest that use of birth control pills can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer.
Taking the birth control pill is not a health issue to be taken lightly. Consider the pros and cons before exposing yourself to additional hormones especially if you have a history of depression.