The pill may impact womens quality of life
Surprisingly, this is one of the most rigorous studies to date to look into the impact of the pill on women's quality of life.
The team say the results may be partially caused by irregular pill use.
The etinylestradiol and levonorgestrel pill is generally recommended as the first-line choice in many countries, since it is considered to be the combined contraceptive pill associated with the least risk of thrombosis among the combined contraceptive pills.
For the study, scientists gave 340 healthy women between the ages of 18 and 35 either placebos or birth control pills containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel over the course of three months.
"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", said Niklas Zethraeus, associate professor at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics at Karolinska Institutet. (Progesterone, they note, has been shown to have a sedative effect on the brain.) Side effects may also play a role: 21% of the women in the birth control group reported bleeding disturbances, anxiety and mood changes, acne, or appetite changes, versus 12% in the placebo group.
Birth control pills may have done some very good stuff - oh, you know, ushering in the sexual revolution and giving women unprecedented control over their reproductive lives.
They found that women who took the contraceptives reported overall reduced feelings of well-being, including negative impacts on their mood, self-control, and energy, compared to those who took a placebo. Around two-thirds of women aged 20-24 use it as a form of contraception in Britain. However, it was unable to establish a causal link between the pill and depression. Doctors shouldn't stop prescribing hormonal birth control, but rather should discuss this with their patients when talking about birth control's side effects - not just the physical effects.
For many women, birth control pills provide huge benefits: They protect against unplanned pregnancies, can reduce symptoms of PMS and other hormonal issues, and might lower the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
Because of this, they urge scientists to conduct more studies such as this one, and that a study with a longer timeframe could see different results, as the effects of the pill can dissipate over time.
The researchers also said that the findings can't be generalised to other kinds of contraceptive pills.
The study was double blind, which meant that neither the researchers giving out the pills or the women taking them knew whether they were getting a placebo or not.