Contraception is of course a wonderful thing – allowing women to take control over their bodies. Not only can it prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it can also help women to improve their acne and their period symptoms.
Hormonal contraception in the UK has evolved from being only accessible for married women, to now being widely available to people of all ages and relationship statuses.
Choices have also now expanded beyond the pill, with the implant, the coil, and many more options which are all easily available on the NHS. This is of course how it should be – everyone deserves the right to contraception, and the fact that there are different options to suit different people is absolutely great.
However, I think much more attention needs to be drawn to the psychological effects of many of these contraceptive methods.
Control over your body and reproductive system is a right, and so too should nuanced information about it be.
Side effects of Hormonal Contraception:
In a survey created by Rosie Hilton and Laurie Presswood, 67.8 per cent of respondents said that they felt a change in their general mood whilst taking hormonal contraception.
56.9 per cent said they felt their hormonal contraception had impacted their mental health.
Many respondents frequently referred to experiencing anxiety, depression, and mood swings, and two respondents specifically identified suicidal thoughts.
The most commonly used form of contraception for those answering the survey was the combined pill, with 196 out of 396 respondents having only experienced this form of contraception. Of this group, 65 per cent said that they felt the pill had affected their general mood, and 51 per cent felt it had affected their mental health.
These statistics are alarming when compared to the statistics popularly published, or expressed to people taking the pill:
In the list of potential side effects that come with Rigevidon, a commonly used brand of the combined pill, “mood swings including depression” is listed as a ‘common side effect’ that “may affect up to 1 in 10 people”.
This listed statistic seems incorrect, and rather far off from the truth.
Astonishingly, 56.5 per cent of people who said they felt their hormonal contraception affected their mental health, said that they had continued to take it despite these concerns.
It seems that women often dismiss their side effects due to the importance of avoiding unwanted pregnancies.
This is clearly not right and a change needs to happen.
Of course, contraception is important and vital, but there are other options out there and women should be encouraged to try these options.
Women shouldn’t just accept their low moods, and mental health issues, as a sacrifice for birth control.
What to do if you think your contraception is affecting your mental health:
Try coming off your contraception for a little while (of course still use protection – i.e condoms), and you may see a drastic change in your moods.
If this is the case, try other methods of contraception, especially non- hormonal ones:
Non-Hormonal Contraception Options:
IUDBarrier methods such as the traditional condom or the female condom.
Cycle/temperature measures (i.e www.naturalcycles.com)
Try different methods and see what works best for you. You could make your future-self much, much happier.
Your mental health and happiness should come first!
If you are experiencing mental health issues, whether due to contraception or not, the best idea is to seek help.
Talking to someone is the best cure.
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