Oral Contraceptives Impact Quality of Life
By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 03 May 2017
Image: Oral contraceptives can have a negative effect on women’s wellbeing (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock).
A new study demonstrates a statistically significant reduction in general wellbeing of women using oral contraceptives.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, and other institutions conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 340 healthy women (18-35 years of age) who were randomized to a combined oral contraceptive (150 μg levonorgestrel and 30 μg ethinylestradiol) or placebo for three months of treatment. Primary outcome measures included global score of the Psychological General Well-Being Index (PGWBI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
In all, 332 women completed data collection at follow-up evaluation. The results showed that the oral contraceptive treatment significantly decreased general wellbeing, compared with placebo. In addition, several PGWBI dimensions were decreased compared with placebo, including positive wellbeing, self-control, and vitality. The effect of oral contraceptives on depressive symptoms and on the PGWBI “depressed mood” dimension were not statistically significant. The study was published on April 19, 2017, in Fertility and Sterility.
“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,” said lead author Professor Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, MD, of Karolinska Institutet. “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 randomized studies where it is compared with placebos.”
The combined oral contraceptive pill, colloquially known as "the pill", is a birth control method that includes a combination of an estrogen and a progestogen. When taken per-os daily, these pills inhibit female fertility (with reversibility). Pills containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel are the first choice of combined oral contraceptives in Sweden and many other countries, as they are considered to entail the least risk of thrombosis among all combined contraceptive pills.