For the 11 million women in America taking oral contraceptives, it’s worthwhile to become better aware of the potential side effects of the pill in the context of overall health as well as mental health.
There is no denying the power of the pill and it’s benefits. Because of its efficacy and safety, it is still the most common reversible contraceptive among all women aged 15-49 nationwide. On the other hand, potentially dangerous side effects are well documented which include spotting, weight gain, migraines, mood swings, risk of blood clot and stroke, increased blood pressure, and sleep disturbances. …but that’s not all and some of the lesser discussed side effects can be hard to swallow.
A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that overall, women who use hormonal contraceptives were more likely to have mood disturbances including depression. The study found that women in their late teens and early twenties were more likely to be treated with antidepressants than their peers not taking the pill.
A randomized placebo controlled study found that women who take hormonal birth control have increased levels of cortisol which peaked when the women were exposed to psychological stress. This has other clinical implications because increased cortisol is associated with autoimmune and inflammatory disease.
There is a relationship between reduced nutrient absorption and the pill. Specifically, key nutrients that are depleted are vitamins C, E, B6, B12, folic acid, and riboflavin and minerals such as zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Complicating the matter, many of these nutrients are essential for the creation, activation, and maintenance of hormones which can potentially manifest in more severe side effects of the pill or problems related to other areas of hormone health.
Don’t get us wrong- we love the pill! It’s contributions to the empowerment of women and promotion of reproductive choice is immeasurable. Having all the information about how your chemistry and the pill play together can deepen your mind-body connection and allow you to have more meaningful conversations with your medical care team. 💫 - 6 minutes ago