A new study found that oral contraceptives, or the pill, could increase the chance of developing depression.
The research, conducted in Denmark, reveals that female adolescents are 80 per cent more likely to develop depression when they are on hormonal contraception, while adult women users are 23 per cent more likely to be on anti-depressants.
The pill is one of the most popular birth control type in Australia, with 30 per cent of women using it.
“I think that perhaps we have been a little uncritical in our prescription of these [adolescent] women who are the most sensitive women, concerning the development of depression with hormone contraception,” the research’s leader, Dr Øjvind Lidegaard told Triple J’s Hack.
“If [women] develop depression after going on hormone contraception, they should know it could be related. Women should have that knowledge.”
The research has excluded women with mental illness history.
Visions Healthcare gynaecologist Dr Wendie Trubow told EmpowHER that things are even more difficult for those with mental health problems.
“Any woman who has a history of depression, anxiety, panic disorders, mood swings or seasonal affective disorder should consider how well she manages her mental health prior to beginning a hormone-containing contraceptive,” said Dr Trubow, “because for a subset of women, taking this type of contraceptive can worsen an underlying mental health issue.”
The pill remains one of the most popular birth control methods for various reasons. Condoms could be seen as expensive and impractical (with 55 per cent of respondents saying the pill is better than condom), while IUD often causes infections and/or more painful periods.
However, this study shows that there is still much work to do for making the best birth control for women.
Furthermore, women are still expected to take up birth control measures in ways that are invasive to the body, while men do not have such expectations on them. Demands of male birth control pills have increased – but the product is still undergoing trials in a research by the team at King’s College London and UCL.
Birth control has helped women empower themselves in many different ways, and it is in our best interest to make sure that contraception becomes a healthy and accessible options for everyone.