25 Abril 2017 13:05
'I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I had lost my mind. My skeleton was clawing out of its muscle casing. My skin had become too thin to protect me from the outside world, everything affected me. I loathed myself, I thought I was completely useless and I couldn’t stop having terrifying, debilitating, all-consuming panic attacks. At one point, I even found suicidal thoughts creeping into my mind.'
A few months ago, Vicky Spratt, editor of The Debrief magazine, shared her personal nightmare of a decade taking the birth control pill. Her testimony is one of many from thousands of women who have had their lives turned upside down by the birth control pill.
There are hundreds of online forums and websites about the mental and physical effects suffered daily by women on the pill. And yet, comparatively few medical studies into the impact of the pill on women's well-being have been carried out.
However, this situation is beginning to be put right thanks to the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden – one of the most prestigious medical centres in Europe – which has just published a new study.
Their findings confirm what many women already knew: 'This study demonstrates a statistically significant reduction in general well-being by a first-choice OC in comparison with placebo in healthy women.'
The researchers took 340 healthy women aged between 18 and 35. The types of pills used were those containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel: 'the most common form of the pill in Sweden and many other countries' according to the study's authors.
The study was double blind, which meant that neither the researchers giving out the pills, nor the women taking them, knew whether they were getting a placebo or not. This method eliminates any potential subjective biases.
Upon analysing the data it was found that women in the experimental group (those who had been taking real contraceptives) reported that their quality of life, self control, and energy levels were significantly lower at the end of the study than those who were given placebos.
Surprisingly, the study revealed no significant evidence that the contraceptives increased depressive symptoms. And we say 'surprisingly' because, on top of the many testimonies from women like Vicky Spratt, other recent studies have found a correlation between the pill and mental health.
A study carried out towards the end of last year by researchers from Copenhagen University and published in JAMA – the journal of the American Medical Association – found a significant correlation between hormonal contraceptive use and the diagnosis of depressive disorders, especially in adolescents.
'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 lead researcher Angelica Lindén Hirschberg from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
'We know that the pill is extremely efficient and we know a lot about risks such as thrombosis, but effects on "soft values" such as life quality and well-being are less known.’ says Professor Hirschberg.
Further studies are required to shed more light on these links. Because, as the researchers state in the study's conclusion, a reduction in the general well-being of millions of women should be of clinical importance.
It made me depressed. If it did to men what it does to women, I'm 99% sure it would have never been made in the first place. #MyPillStory
— Anne (@Litwerally) March 31, 2016
[Via Sience Alert]