Oral contraceptive pills reduce the quality of life and general well being in women, a new randomized study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with the Stockholm School of Economics has found.
For the study, researchers gave 340 healthy women in the ages of 18-35 either placebos (dummy pills with no effect) or contraceptive pills containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel over a course of three months. Ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel is a common combination in contraceptive pills available in many countries.
The women who took the contraceptive pills reported a lower quality of life as compared to those who were given placebos.
The former group said that their mood, general sense of well being, self-control and energy levels were negatively affected by the contraceptives.
The study also observed that there was no significant increase in depressive symptoms due to the pills.
"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. 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," professor Angelica Lindén Hirschberg at the Department of Women's and Children's Health at Karolinska Institutet said.
Niklas Zethraeus, associate professor at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics noted that the results must be interpreted with some amount of caution since the changes are relatively small. He however added that, the negative effect on the quality of life maybe of clinical importance in cases of individual women.
"This might in some cases be a contributing cause of low compliance and irregular use of contraceptive pills. This possible degradation of quality of life should be paid attention to and taken into account in conjunction with prescribing of contraceptive pills and when choosing a method of contraception,” he said.
Broadly reported that there's ample anecdotal evidence available from women who have said that hormonal birth control pills make them irritable, moody and even sad.
Kate Sloan, a woman who was using contraceptive pills for over three years, had earlier told Broadly how her productivity had taken a hit.
"Prior to being on birth control, I used to write two to three songs a month. I only wrote about four to five songs during the entire three and a half years I was on birth control," she said.
Kate said just two months after she started using the pills, the effects started surfacing. She could not carry out simple daily chores like eating or showering and would cry often without reason.
"A lot of the time, I wanted to die, but not enough to actually kill myself. Sometimes I'd be out walking, and I'd see a big truck and think, If that hit me right now, I'd be okay with it," she said.