Study May Ease Fear About Birth Control Side Effects

Many women worry about the potential side effects of hormonal contraceptives, including depression. However, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center conducted a comprehensive review of current research and found there is not sufficient evidence to link birth control and depression. Submitted photo.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The vast majority of women will use some method of contraception during their lifetime. Despite there being 37 million in the United States who are currently on birth control, many still worry about potential side effects. Depression is a common concern for many women, but a new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is putting patients at ease after finding that there is no evidence to support a link between hormonal birth control and depression.

“We live in a media-savvy age where if one or a few people end up having severe side effects, all of a sudden, that really gets amplified to every single person,” said Dr. Brett Worly, lead author of the study and OB/GYN at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “The biggest misconception is that birth control leads to depression, and for most patients that’s just not the case.”

Gina Carlomagno takes birth control daily. Initially, she worried that the pill could affect her mental health, but a new study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found no link between hormonal contraceptives and depression. Submitted photo.

Worly and his team reviewed thousands of studies on the mental health effects of contraceptives that included data tied to various contraception methods, including injections, implants and pills. Researchers found that the evidence does not support an association with depression. Similarly, researchers reviewed studies examining the effects of hormonal birth control on postpartum women, adolescents and depressed women, all with the same conclusion: there is insufficient evidence to prove a link between birth control and depression.

Experts say women should continue to have open and honest discussions with their doctors to decide what is best for them. “In the past, some of my patients have worried that birth control will lead to depression,” said Worly, “but based on our findings, it shouldn’t be a concern for most women and they should feel comfortable knowing they’re making a safe choice.”