Does hormonal birth control really cause depression?

The short answer: Not so much.

Here at Bedsider, we love birth control. In addition to preventing pregnancy (hello stress-free sex life), birth control has been shown to have a bunch of positive side effects. From helping with heavy or painful periods, to clearing stubborn acne, many people use hormonal birth control for lots of reasons.

TBH, there are some negative side effects, too. For some, that’s depression. While previous research has shown a link between using birth control with hormones (i.e., estrogen and progestin) and depression, other research hasn’t shown a connection. The bottom line: there has been no consistent evidence that birth control causes depression in most women.

To better understand the relationship between hormonal birth control and depression, researchers reviewed 26 studies that looked at the association between progestin-only contraception (i.e., implant, shot, IUD, and progestin-only pills) and depression. Overall, the review didn’t show a clear relationship between hormones and depression. While some studies suggest that a small number of progestin-only birth control users may experience depressive symptoms, the highest-quality research showed no association between those methods and depression.

The good news is that most hormonal birth control users don’t have to worry about their birth control making them depressed. But certain methods and hormones can affect people differently and you know your body best. If you feel like your birth control may be contributing to depression (or anything else that doesn’t feel normal to you) reach out to your provider and talk about switching to a different method that you love.

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