Oral contraceptive pill impacts on wellbeing
Women taking ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel combined pill report lower quality of life
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
One of the most common combined oral contraceptive pill has a negative impact on women's quality of life but does not increase depressive symptoms, a study* published in the journal Fertility and Sterility has found.
The study included 340 healthy women aged between 18 and 35 who were treated randomly over the course of three months with either contraceptive pills containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel, the most common form of combined contraceptive pill in Sweden and many other countries, or a placebo.
The etinylestradiol and levonorgestrel pill is generally recommended as the first-line choice in many countries, since it is considered to be the combined contraceptive pill associated with the least risk of thrombosis among the combined contraceptive pills.
The women who were given contraceptive pills estimated their quality of life to be significantly lower than those who were given placebos. Both general quality of life and specific aspects like mood/wellbeing, self-control and energy level were affected negatively by the contraceptives. However, no significant increase in depressive symptoms was observed.
Joint study lead Professor Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, from the Department of Women's and Children's Health at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, said: "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."
Joint study lead Niklas Zethraeus, associate professor at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, said that the contraceptive pill’s detrimental impact on wellbeing seen in the study "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," he said.
* Niklas Zethraeus, Anna Dreber, Eva Ranehill, et al. A first choice combined oral contraceptive influences general well-being in healthy women - a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Fertility and Sterility, published online 18 April 2017. DOI:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2017.02.120