I'm on birth control. How does it affect my mood?
Birth control: can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Regardless of what kind of birth control you use, you will without a doubt notice changes in your mood and body as a result of it. So, instead of listening to birth control horror stories from friends of friends of friends, get in the know about the effects that your birth control might have on you, why, and what you can do to make these side effects more manageable.
Everyone’s body and brain reacts differently to birth control (why do you think there are so many forms of it?!). There are many different forms of hormonal birth control. There is also a difference in hormone levels, depending on which form you get. Progestin-only birth control refers to hormonal birth control that contains only progestin, which is a synthetic version of progesterone, a naturally produced hormone. There is also combined birth control, which contains both progestin and estrogen. What does this mean in terms of my mood and my body? Let’s dive into mental health.
Birth control and changes in mental health
It has been found that hormones, in general, play a role in depression. Hormonal birth control works by changing the natural level of hormones in your body, which can lead to changes in your mood. These changes can be hard to measure, since they are different for everyone. Some research has been done, however, to show common trends in the way each birth control type affects your mood.
Almost half of all women who go on birth control stop using it within the first year because of some of the side effects they experience, most commonly changes in mood. In general, women feel best around day 14 of a 28 day cycle, when estrogen levels peak. Most hormonal forms of birth control work by smoothing this surge of estrogen out to an even line of hormones for the first 21 days of the menstrual cycle, which causes estrogen and progestin levels to fall in the last 7 days. During those last 7 days, a lot of women report feelings of anxiety and sometimes depression. Several studies have shown an increased chance of depression in hormonal birth control users, but don’t report any negative effects on mood from users.
One important study of the birth control pill, specifically the combined birth control pill, found that adolescents who use this form are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than adults in the same study. This being said, there is no way to link depression directly back to birth control, as there are many other factors that can lead to depression. Studies have also shown that women with a history of depression sometimes experience increased symptoms of depression on the birth control pill.
For a lot of women, feelings of depression and anxiety are heightened when on birth control. If this sounds like you, it might be time to look into other forms of birth control that will be a better fit for you.
Physical effects of birth control
Let’s get physical. Each form of birth control comes with physical side effects that range in severity from person to person. In order to decide which form of birth control is best for you, it’s important to study up on the possible side effects that might come with it.
The most common side effects of birth control will be similar to those of your period: cramps, bloating, spotting, nausea, the list goes on. Often times, these side effects are the worst in the first few months while your body is still getting used to birth control. Spotting (bleeding between periods) is one of the most common side effects of birth control, especially within the first 3 months and usually resolves itself.
Unfortunately, weight gain is another common side effect of birth control. It’s common to gain a little weight once you start birth control because your body is retaining more fluid than it normally would. If this happens, try not to panic. The weight gain is just a temporary thing that happens while your body gets used to the hormones in your birth control.
There are also more serious side effects of birth control that many women experience. For example, studies have shown that yeast infections are more common in people who take birth control. This is because birth control disrupts the body’s natural hormone balance which can sometimes lead to yeast overgrowth.
No one knows your body better than yourself. If you don’t feel aligned with your birth control, talk to your doctor about finding a better fit for you. Trust your instincts and remember that there are other options. For more resources like this, head to our blog, Real Talk.