Oral Contraceptive Pills Negatively Affect Women’s Quality of Life

A stupendous number of women take the oral contraceptive pills to avoid pregnancy, and many of them report to experience some pretty awful side effects. Now, a new study has reinforced those claims saying the birth control pills can reduce quality of life and wellbeing of healthy women.

The study, conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with the Stockholm School of Economics, claims to have found that oral contraceptive pills can have a pretty terrible impact on women’s overall well being.

In a major randomised, placebo-controlled study, lead researcher Angelica Linden Hirschberg, who is professor at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Karolinska Institutet, and her team found that use of common oral contraceptive pills containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel for three months was associated with a significantly reduced quality of life, mood, self-control, and energy levels.

However, there was no notable evidence that contraceptive pills increased depressive symptoms.

“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,” says professor Hirschberg.

Hirschberg in collaboration with Niklas Zethraeus, associate professor at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Anna Dreber Almenberg from the Stockholm School of Economics, and Eva Ranehill of the University of Zürich studied 340 healthy women aged between 18 and 35. The participating women were treated randomly over the course of three months with either placebo pills or contraceptive pills containing ethinylestradiol (an estrogen) and levonorgestrel (a progestin).

The research team found that the women who took contraceptive pills reported that their quality of life was deteriorated significantly as compared to those who were given placebos. Besides general quality of life, their mood/well-being, self-control and energy level were affected negatively as well. Conversely, depressive symptoms did not appear to be increased.

“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,” said Zethraeus.

Findings from the study have been published in Fertility and Sterility.