Birth Control and Its Impact on Mental Health and Mood

Introduction

Birth control is a medical method used to prevent pregnancy. There are different types of birth control methods available, such as hormonal contraception, barrier methods, and sterilization. The popularity of birth control has been growing among women since the 1960s. It has helped to increase women’s control over their reproductive choices and improve sexual and reproductive health. However, despite its benefits, birth control is often accused of causing adverse side effects, especially on mental health and mood.

Mental Health and Mood-Related Side Effects of Birth Control

Like any other medical method, birth control can have side effects, and not all women will experience the same side effects. Some of the common mood-related side effects include:

Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that affects a person’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Studies have shown that hormonal contraception can increase the risk of depression, especially among adolescent girls. A 2016 study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that women who used hormonal birth control methods were more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who did not use any method.

Anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of nervousness, tension, and excessive worry. Like depression, studies suggest that hormonal birth control methods can increase the risk of anxiety in women. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that women who used hormonal contraceptive methods were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety than those who did not use any method.

Mood Swings

Mood swings are sudden and extreme changes in a person’s mood or emotional state. Hormonal birth control has been known to cause mood swings in some women. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body can affect mood and behavior, leading to irritability, anger, and sadness.

Decreased Libido

Loss of sexual desire is a common side effect of hormonal birth control. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who used hormonal contraception reported a lower sex drive than those using non-hormonal methods. The hormonal changes caused by birth control can reduce the production of testosterone, leading to a decrease in libido.

Mental Health Benefits of Birth Control

While birth control is often associated with mental health side effects, it also has many benefits for women’s mental health. Here are some of them:

Reduced Risk of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can occur after childbirth. Women who experience postpartum depression may have symptoms such as feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. Hormonal birth control can reduce the risk of postpartum depression by regulating hormone levels and preventing unexpected pregnancies.

Treatment of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that affects a small percentage of women. PMDD can cause emotional and physical symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, depression, and headaches. Hormonal birth control can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce the severity of PMDD symptoms.

Reduction in Menstrual Cramps and Heavy Bleeding

Menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding can cause discomfort and interfere with a woman’s daily activities. Hormonal birth control can reduce menstrual cramps and lessen the amount of bleeding during periods. This can lead to a decrease in pain and improve a woman’s quality of life.

Treatment of Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that can affect a person’s self-esteem and mental health. Hormonal birth control can be an effective treatment for women with acne. The hormones in birth control pills can regulate sebum production, reducing the likelihood of acne breakouts.

Conclusion

Birth control has both positive and negative impacts on mental health and mood. While it is associated with side effects such as depression, anxiety, and decreased libido, it also has many benefits, including reducing the risk of postpartum depression, treating PMDD, reducing menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding, and treating acne. Women must discuss the different birth control options with their healthcare providers to determine the best method that suits their needs and lifestyle.

FAQs

FAQ 1: Can birth control cause mental health and mood-related side effects?

Yes, birth control can cause mental health and mood-related side effects in some people. This is due to the changes in hormones that birth control can cause, which can affect the brain and mood. Some common side effects include mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability. It is important to talk to your doctor about any side effects you may be experiencing.

FAQ 2: Are there any mental health benefits to using birth control?

Yes, there are mental health benefits to using birth control. For example, birth control can help regulate hormones and menstrual cycles, which can reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and related mood swings and irritability. Birth control can also provide relief for those with conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and acne, which can impact mental health.

FAQ 3: How can I manage mental health side effects from birth control?

There are several ways to manage mental health side effects from birth control. First, talk to your healthcare provider about switching to a different type or brand of birth control that may have fewer side effects. It is also important to practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and eating a healthy diet. Seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional can also be helpful in managing mood-related side effects.


References

1. Czyżowska, E., Kurowska, M., & Grzesiak, M. (2020). Association between hormonal contraception and mental health problems in women–a literature review. Ginekologia Polska, 91(1), 56-62. (DOI: 10.5603/GP.2020.0008)

2. Kuyumba, B. M., Kintaudi, K. N., & Ntalindwa, E. G. (2021). Effect of birth control pills on mental health among women attending family planning clinics in Kinshasa. Reproductive Health, 18(1), 1-8. (DOI: 10.1186/s12978-021-01129-8)

3. Skovlund, C. W., Mørch, L. S., Kessing, L. V., Lidegaard, Ø., & Mørch, K. (2016). The association between hormonal contraceptive use and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of General Psychiatry, 73(11), 1154-1162. (DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.2387)