This New Study Says Birth Control Pills Might Affect Your Well-Being…

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But it really depends on the pill and the person.

Starting a new birth control method can be tricky. Aside from actually picking a method, you might also have to put up with some annoying side effects as your body adjusts to a new medication.

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A new double-blind study out of Sweden took a closer look at how people feel after starting a new birth control method. They gave 340 women either birth control pills or a placebo for three months.

A new double-blind study out of Sweden took a closer look at how people feel after starting a new birth control method. They gave 340 women either birth control pills or a placebo for three months.

All of the women took a pill — either birth control pills with ethinylestradiol (a form of estrogen) and levonorgestrel (a form of progestin) or a placebo — every day for 21 days, followed by a break for 7 days. They did this for three months.

Not even the researchers knew which participants were assigned to which group, making this a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study (which is a pretty big deal in the world of birth control research).

All the women were between the ages of 18-35 and were screened for certain health conditions before being included in the study. None of the women were using hormonal birth control at the start of the study, though some of them had used it in the past. And they were instructed to use non-hormonal birth control throughout the study (like condoms), since they wouldn't know if they were getting the birth control or the placebo.

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Before and after the study, all the participants took questionnaires designed to measure well-being and depression.

Before and after the study, all the participants took questionnaires designed to measure well-being and depression.

On the post-study questionnaire, the women in the birth control group showed a relatively small but statistically significant reduction in general well-being when compared to the placebo group. They also scored lower on measures of self-control and vitality. However, there were no statistically significant effects when it came to depressed mood or depressive symptoms.

You can find an example of the questionnaire here.

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So why did women taking the pill feel more meh than women taking the placebo?

So why did women taking the pill feel more meh than women taking the placebo?

The study's author, Dr. Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, professor at Karolinska University Hospital, told BuzzFeed Health via email: “We do not know the mechanism, but we think it could be a direct effect of the progestin component on the brain.”

That's not a bad theory, said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB-GYN and professor at Yale School of Medicine. All different types of birth control pills contain the same type of estrogen, but it's the progestin that varies from brand to brand, she said. And some people may react differently to different progestins. It explains why your best friend might love the same pill that made you moody and nauseous. So it's possible that some of the women in this study reacted negatively to the progestin in this pill, which was levonorgestrel.

“When I [have a patient] go on a birth control pill, I really try to tailor the birth control pill to the patient,” said Minkin.

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