In 1960, medicine proudly announced the advent of birth control pills, which, when properly used, prevents pregnancy about 91% of the time. Supposedly 99% effective if taken regularly. Besides the intended benefit, there are many potential side effects of birth control pills and depression is just one of them.
Despite the potential side effects of the pill, condoms, diaphragms, and spermicidal creams have become a thing of the past for most people. They opt instead for the apparent ease of a daily pill.
We had planned to start our family with our first child born in 1961. As part of our family planning, we chose to use a diaphragm and spermicidal cream which we continued using until my wife’s menopause. We never considered using birth control pills.
However, we saw the effects of birth control and depression with one of our cats. Our vet talked us into a birth control shot for a Siamese cat. She became hysterical and started killing all our baby chicks.
Then we bought a prize Appaloosa horse who miscarried her first two pregnancies because she had been given birth control shots to prevent her from becoming pregnant while on the show circuit.
These two events let us to avoid the pill for the rest of our lives! The risks were just too great.
Besides this anecdotal evidence, there is strong scientific research linking birth control pills and depression along with anxiety, fatigue, neurotic symptoms, sexual disturbances, compulsion, anger, and negative menstrual effects.
What is unclear is if these symptoms are directly the result of the pills or a psychological response to the practice of contraception. However, this distinction is immaterial if you experience any of these side effects.
Birth control pills and depression are only the tip of the Titanic. There are many other serious potential side effects of birth control pills.
Anxiety is another side effect of birth control pills. A 2004 study found that hormonal contraceptive users had higher rates of anxiety than nonusers. A 2018 study found that users of IUDs containing the hormone levonorgestrel also had higher anxiety rates.
Birth control pills can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. It’s more in women who are overweight, smoke, have had high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy, have a family history of high blood pressure or mild kidney disease, and/or have problems with their heart or blood vessels.
Estrogen-containing birth control pills can slightly increase stroke risk. The risk is higher for women who smoke or have migraines with aura.
According to BreastCancer.org, high-dose estrogen birth control pills more than doubled the risk of breast cancer. Ethynodiol diacetate (a type of progestin) birth control pills also more than doubled the risk of breast cancer. Triphasic birth control pills with an average dose of 0.75 mg of norethindrone (a type of progestin) more than tripled the risk of breast cancer.
Those with a family history of breast cancer related to mutations in the BRCA genes should use caution before taking birth control pills. Families at increased risk of breast cancer may further increase their risk of breast cancer by taking birth control pills. The risk is higher for women who smoke or have migraines with aura.
Women over the age of 45 have a significantly increased risk of cancer if they are still on the pill!
Alfredo Jia, a researcher at the Center for Biomedical Research Network of Pathophysiology of Obesity and Nutrition, said in a report published in the Spanish magazine Quidate Plus that long-term use of birth control pills increases the risk of obesity by almost three times regardless of other factors related to obesity such as diet and physical activity. He is also quoted as saying that his study has confirmed that obesity is the main factor that has led many women to stop using birth control pills.
However, the pills also have some health benefits. These include lowering the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, cysts in breast tissues, anemia, as well as serious infections in ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.
Whether you decide to take or continue to take birth control pills is a personal decision. Given you are researching the link between birth control pills and depression you are at least curious about the risks. My best advice is that you continue doing your research so you are comfortable with the decision you ultimately make.
Considering that 40% of American children are born out of wedlock, perhaps more birth control is needed. But I vote for a diaphragm and spermicidal cream over the pill.
Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D. is the father of holistic medicine. He recommends autogenic focus (the basis of the Biogenics System) as part of your overall commitment to self-health. Register to download your FREE autogenic focus MP3 now.