With the affordability of contraceptives for many women under the Affordable Care Act, it might be tempting to rush in to the doctor to get a prescription.
But first it’s important to know how different contraceptives can affect not only your overall physical health, but also your mental health.
Contraceptives come in many forms, such as the birth control pill and IUD, so each type could potentially have varying side effects depending on the individual. Experts provide some benefits and downfalls of contraceptives in regard to mental health.
Dr. Wendie Trubow, a board certified gynecologist and quality director at Visions HealthCare, said in an email that birth control pills especially can have the ability to affect mental health.
“Any contraceptive that contains hormones has the potential to [impact] a woman's mental health due to the effect synthetic hormones can have on a woman's body,” Trubow said. “For any woman who is prone to depression, anxiety, sadness, or [mood] swings, the hormone-containing contraceptives can magnify those responses.”
“The mechanism is complicated, and involves the woman's innate state of health, her overall toxic burden, and the way her liver processes and her gut excretes the hormones she has taken,” she added.
“Additionally, oral contraceptives inhibit ovulation, which can blunt a woman's sexual drive. This can be distressing for many women and their partners, who don't understand why their sex drive is suddenly diminished.”
For women who are already experiencing mental health problems before taking contraceptives, it can be a gamble to starting taking pills with hormones.
“Any woman who has a history of depression, anxiety, panic disorders, mood swings or seasonal affective disorder should consider how well she manages her mental health prior to beginning a hormone-containing contraceptive, because for a subset of women, taking this type of contraceptive can worsen an underlying mental health issue,” Trubow said.