A study published in September last year examined the correlation between the use of hormonal birth control and depression.
According to the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, which tracked over one million women using hormonal birth control for 13 years, those prescribed birth control – either the pill, hormonal IUD or vaginal ring – significantly increased their chances of being prescribed antidepressants.
The nationwide study found that of the million women living in Denmark who participated in the study, an increased risk of first use antidepressants and first diagnosed depression rated highest among adolescents.
It also outlined the importance of health care professionals informing their patients of the likely adverse side effects, including mood disturbances.
In an op-ed published in The Guardian late last year by Holly Grigg-Spall, the Danish findings are discussed. In pure figures, researchers discovered a 23 percent increase in those taking the combined oral contraceptive to develop depression. Those using the “mini-pill” saw a 34 percent increase. The hormonal IUS/coil, the patch and the ring showed an even larger increase in links to depression.
Those with pre-existing symptoms of depression experience worsening symptoms if they use the alternative LARCs (the long-acting reversible contraceptives), mainly prescribed to teens.
According to one study published in NCBI, over 100 million women use oral contraceptives and mood changes are the main reason for discontinuing their use.
But according to Grigg-Spall, the appalling gatherings of medical ‘professionals’ that lined up to discredit the study only highlighted the position of woman in society.
In sharp contrast, the WHO documented through a large-scale study that men didn’t accept the male pill as viable because of the impact on their emotional wellbeing, highlighting the existing double-standard underscored by sexism.
Although men are fertile every day, the medical community consensus is that the onus of contraception falls on women, albeit they are only fertile for 6 days of the month. And as for one medical professional, an unwanted pregnancy “far outweighs” all other birth control side effects.
What is more devastating is these side effects have been known since the introduction of birth control pills for women, over 50 years ago. Pioneered by activist Margaret Sanger, biologist Gregory Pincus, Catholic physician and gynecologist John Rock, and self-funded by millionaire heiress Katherine McCormick, the development of the drug has a dark history.
Often, test subjects were given the pill without being told that it would stop pregnancy. When Americans by the dozens dropped out of the initial small studies – mainly to mood changes – the group took their studies to unsuspecting Puerto Rican women. Again, however, women dropped out from the study due to the pill’s side effects.
It was then that women were forced to participate; those in mental asylums were enrolled in the program and female medical students in San Juan were told to take the pills, undergo invasive medical exams or face expulsion from college.
The potential side effects on mental health have been covered up since the pill’s initial development. Although they are surfacing now, they are still largely ignored. Unfortunately, in this largely sexist, one-sided debate, it is up to the woman to now educate herself and seize back her power.
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