Oral Contraceptive Diminishes Well Being Of Healthy Women, Study Finds


In a randomized, placebo-controlled study a commonly prescribed oral contraceptive, one that combines ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel, was found to negatively affect the user’s quality of life.

“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,” says professor Angelica Lindén, Department of Women's and Children's Health at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. “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.”

In their contraceptive pill study, Lindén and colleagues involved 340 healthy women, aged 18 to 35 who were randomly assigned either a three-month course of the combined contraceptive, or a placebo. Neither the subjects nor researchers knew which treatment each woman received.

After the three months, participants who took the contraceptive pills reported their quality of life was significantly lower compared to those taking placebos. Their sense of well-being was negatively affected, as was their mood, energy level, and self-control. However, there was no substantial increase in depressive symptoms.

Though the quality of life changes in the contraceptive group were not large overall, the negative impact on individual women could be clinically significant.

“This might in some cases be a contributing cause of low compliance and irregular use of contraceptive pills,” said professor and researcher Niklas Zethraeus. “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 findings from this study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, cannot be generalized to other types of combined contraceptive pills since they may have different effects on users.

Source: Karolinska Institutet
Photo credit: Gisela Giardino


The information provided on Contracept.org is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine. We encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician or nutritionist if they have any concerns regarding health issues related to diet, personal image and any other topics discussed on this site. Neither the owners or employees of Contracept.org nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.