Birth Control Pills Can Make Women Feel Awful, Study Finds

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Birth Control Pills Can Make Women Feel Awful, Study Finds

Women often take birth control pills, or oral contraceptives, to steer clear of unwanted pregnancies, or if they are not ready to go the family way.

According to the Globe and Mail, despite all the birth control options, the pill remains the most popular choice for Canadian women.

For example, researchers at the University of Copenhagen note women taking combined oral contraceptives were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression; those using progestin-only pills were 34 percent more likely; and teens were at the greatest risk of depression, with an 80 percent increase when taking the combined pill.

However, no significant increase in depressive symptoms were observed by the team at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet.

"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", said Angelica Hirschberg, the lead author of the research. They concluded at the end of three months that women who took the combo pill reported lower self-control, energy, and overall mood.

Ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel are ingredients that are both used in Microgynon and Rigevidon, two of the UK's most frequently prescribed contraceptive pills.

The women who were given contraceptive pills reported that their quality of life was significantly lower at the end of the study than those who were given placebos.

The study was double blind, which meant that neither the researchers giving out the pills or the women taking them knew whether they were getting a placebo or not. In the case of individual women, however, the negative effect on quality of life may be of clinical importance.

The participants were randomly prescribed either a combined contraceptive pill containing levonorgestrel (a progestin) and ethniylestradoil (an estrogen) or a placebo pill.

However, the study's co-author, Dr. Niklas Zethraeus, did encourage women to take these findings into account when choosing a method of contraception.

More research is needed before we can identify more accurately how the pill impacts women, but these early results are reassuring for many women who've struggled with side effects while on the pill.

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