STOCKHOLM, Sweden, April 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Women who take oral contraceptives may be placing themselves at risk for decreased overall health and well-being, a new study says.
Mood, self-control, and energy level were all negatively affected by contraceptives, Swedish researchers found. And the women taking the birth control pills in the study said their quality of life was “significantly lower” than those who taking placebos.
In spite of the large number of women who take the pill worldwide, one of the researchers said its effects on women’s health are still largely unknown.
“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,” said Dr. Angelica Linden Hirschberg, professor at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
“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 randomized studies where it is compared with placebos,” she said.
Karolinska Institutet conducted the study with the Stockholm School of Economics. It was published last week in the scientific journal Fertility and Sterility and reported on by Catholic News Agency (CNA).
The study included 340 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 35 who were treated randomly over three months with placebos or one of the most common forms of oral contraceptive pill (containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel). Neither the study’s leaders nor its subjects knew which pills the women were taking.
“The women who were given contraceptive pills estimated their quality of life to be significantly lower than those who were given placebos,” the study results said. No notable increase in depressive symptoms was seen, but general and specific quality of life factors were affected negatively by the contraceptives.
The researchers underscored that because the changes were comparatively small, the results should be taken with some caution. However, they concluded that the negative effect on quality of life for women could be of clinical importance.
“This might in some cases be a contributing cause of low compliance and irregular use of contraceptive pills,” researcher Niklas Zethraeus said. “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.”
The negative side effects of oral contraceptives are not uncommon. Documented cases include the risk of blood clots, hair loss, increased chance of Crohn’s disease and brain shrinkage, breast cancer, hardening of the arteries, and greater chance of glaucoma and cervical cancer.
A young British woman died in 2015 after taking a contraceptive pill derived from the same drugs in the Swedish study.
Fallan Kurek, 21, was prescribed the drug by her doctor and told to try it for three months to help regulate menstruation. She died from a blood clot in her lung after she took it for less than one month.