Is There a Connection Between Hormonal Birth Control and Anxiety

What are the symptoms of hormonal birth control?

The most common side effect of hormonal birth control is acne. Women taking hormonal contraceptives may experience pimples or cysts on their face, chest, back, arms, legs and other parts of body. Some women develop small whiteheads under the skin which look like tiny pimples. Other women have dark patches on their bodies where they developed new hair growth. They may feel tired all the time due to lack of energy. Women using hormonal contraception may experience irregular periods, heavy bleeding and painful cramps.

How does hormonal birth control affect my mental health?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to treat menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and pain during sexual activity. HRT helps women cope with these symptoms. However, some women use it because of its beneficial effects on mood swings. These women may suffer from mood swings when they take HRT. This can lead to depression and anxiety.

Birth control pills are not recommended for women suffering from bipolar disorder. The reason is that birth control pills increase the risk of developing manic episodes in those suffering from bipolar disorder.

Women using hormonal contraceptives may experience mania or hypomanic episodes if they do not get proper treatment during these times.

Can I stop taking hormonal birth control?

Yes. If you are experiencing side effects while taking hormonal birth control, you can stop taking them. You may experience some side effects after you stop using it. Some women experience withdrawal bleeding within three days after stopping hormonal contraceptives. This is also known as “withdrawal bleeding” or “breakthrough bleeding.” You can expect to have approximately four to eight days of bleeding until your cycle stabilizes again. You may experience mood swings when you stop taking hormonal birth control. This is why it is important to seek treatment for any mood swings.

How can I manage hormonal birth control side effects?

Some women experience mood swings if they do not take their hormonal contraceptive at the same time each day. If you are experiencing mood swings, you can fix this problem by taking your birth control on a regular schedule. You may also consider switching to a different type of hormonal contraceptive. Some women develop a tolerance to the side effects of birth control and start experiencing fewer side effects with time.

How can I choose the right hormonal birth control?

There are many types of hormonal contraceptives from which you can choose. You can talk with your doctor about which one is best for you. One of the most popular types of hormonal birth control is the combined pill (estrogen and progestin). The combined pill comes in packs of 28 pills. There are 21 days of active pills during which you take both estrogen and progestin, and seven days of inactive pills during which you take only sugar pills. Another commonly used hormonal contraceptive is the mini-pill. The mini-pill only contains progestin.

Are there any risks with hormonal birth control?

Taking hormonal contraceptives may increase the risk of certain side effects. These side effects are different for each woman. Some women experience no side effects. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects that you may experience with hormonal contraceptives.

Can I still take hormonal birth control if I have a medical condition?

You may need to stop taking hormonal contraceptives if you develop certain medical conditions. Tell your doctor about any other medical conditions that you may have before taking hormonal contraceptive so that you can make an informed decision. You should also tell your doctor if you have any other allergies, as some of the components in hormonal contraceptives are also found in other medicines.

Are there any other precautions that I should know about?

Hormonal contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You can still get an STD even if your partner is using a latex barrier such as a male or female condoms. Always practice safe sexual behavior by using condoms.

Can hormonal birth control be taken if I want to become pregnant in the future?

Yes. Hormonal contraceptives do not cause infertility. If you decide that you want to become pregnant, your fertility should return within three months of stopping the hormones. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns. It is important to note that most types of hormonal birth control should not be taken after menopause.

Tips for taking hormonal birth control:

• Always take your birth control on a regular schedule.

• Take into consideration your lifestyle and medical conditions when choosing a birth control method.

• Always read the directions on the package of your birth control.

• Tell your doctor about any medical conditions you may have.

• Tell your doctor about any allergies you may have.

• Don’t exceed the dosage.

What happens if I forget to take a birth control pill?

If you forget to take your birth control pill, take it as soon as you remember. Take the next one at the usual time and then go back to taking them as scheduled. It is important that the time between pills remain constant, so keep this in mind if you are more than a few minutes late in taking the pill.

If you forget to take more than one pill, you should use a back-up method of birth control, such as condoms for the week that you are missing pills. If you are concerned about forgetting to take your pills, talk with your doctor about another form of birth control that may be more appropriate for you.

What happens if I overdose on hormonal birth control?

An overdose of hormonal contraceptives isn’t likely to happen by accident. However, in the unlikely event that you happen to take multiple pills, or overdose on another way, you should seek medical attention immediately.

In the event of an overdose, you may experience nausea, dizziness, or vaginal bleeding. If you experience severe side effects or any other symptoms you are concerned about, seek medical attention immediately.

What should I do if I forget to take or miss a birth control pill?

Hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, patches, and rings are supposed to be taken every day. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Take the next pill at the usual time and then go back to taking them as scheduled. If you are more than a few hours late in taking the pill, use a back-up method of contraception, such as male or female condoms, until you can talk to your healthcare provider.

Always take your birth control pills correctly. Missing pills increases the risk of pregnancy.

Who should not take hormonal birth control?

You should not use hormonal contraceptives if you:

• Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

• Have or have had blood clots, certain types of cancer, pancreatitis, liver disease, kidney disease, asthma, seizures, diabetes, migraines, or jaundice

• Experience nausea, vomiting, or yellowing of the skin while taking hormonal contraceptives

Talk with your doctor about any medical conditions you may have. Your doctor will also want to know about your family’s medical history before prescribing hormonal contraceptives.

Can I drink alcohol while taking hormonal birth control?

Drinking small amounts of alcohol (1-2 standard US drinks) may be fine, but drinking large amounts of alcohol can decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

If you often drink large amounts of alcohol, hormonal birth control may not be the best method for you, as drinking large amounts of alcohol can decrease the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives. Additionally, if you are an alcoholic or have a history of alcohol/drug abuse your doctor may not feel comfortable prescribing hormonal contraceptives.

What happens if I overdose on other medications?

Some medications can increase the risk of serious side effects from hormonal birth control. Your doctor may choose to prescribe a lower strength birth control pill or may require you to use a back-up method such as condoms if you are taking other medications. If you are concerned, talk to your doctor about all the medications you are taking.

Other medications can make the ingredients in hormonal contraceptives less effective. If you are using hormonal contraceptives and need to take other medications, be sure to talk to your doctor about possible interaction between the two medications.

What are the side effects of hormonal birth control?

You may have some of these common hormonal birth control side effects:

• Changes in menstrual bleeding – depending on the type you use, you may have irregular or occasional spotting between menstrual periods or your bleeding may even stop altogether. However, breakthrough bleeding or spotting may also occur, especially when you first start using the birth control pill.

• Acne

Less common hormonal contraceptive side effects include:

• Changes in weight (up or down) or gain temporary depression symptoms. These side effects generally go away after you stop taking hormonal contraceptives.

However, if you have severe symptoms, tell your doctor because they won’t go away on their own and may need to be treated.

Less common side effects of the patch and vaginal ring are:

• Changes in vaginal bleeding, including heavy bleeding or spotting

You may also experience side effects such as nausea, dizziness, lowering of your potassium level, temporary headaches, or change in mood. However, most of these side effects are rare.

If you experience severe side effects or any side effects that concern you, contact your doctor.

What are the benefits of taking hormonal birth control?

Taking hormonal contraceptives can reduce the amount of hassle and expense of using other types of birth control.

Additionally, hormonal birth control can help regulate your periods to an extent. With some types you may have less bleeding or even stop having a period entirely (this is known as amenorrhea).

If you do have a period while using hormonal contraceptives it will likely be less painful and lighter. You may also have a decreased risk of ovarian and uterine cancers.

How effective is hormonal birth control?

When used as directed, hormonal contraceptives are 98-99% effective. This means that if 1000 women have vaginal sexualintercourse continuously while using these types of birth control, between 1 and 50 women will become pregnant over the course of a year.

If you don’t always take them correctly, the effectiveness rate goes down. Be sure to review instructions with your doctor and follow them carefully and consistently.

What about side effects?

Side effects are a real possibility with hormonal contraceptives, though most are minor. However, you should be aware that some are severe enough to cause you to stop using hormonal contraceptives and others may even require you to stop taking them entirely. Be sure to speak with your doctor about the possible side effects and their severity so you can make an educated decision on whether or not the potential benefits of hormonal birth control outweigh the potential risks.

Who shouldn’t use hormonal birth control?

If you experience certain severe side effects while taking hormonal contraceptives, you should stop using them and contact your doctor immediately. These include:

• Unexplained, sudden, significant weight gain

• Severe headache or increase in headaches

• Problems with vision, such as partial or complete loss of vision

• Severe pain in the chest or left shoulder (mimicking heart attack symptoms)

Other serious side effects include:

• Liver tumors (benign or cancerous)

• Rare cancers, including cancer of the uterus (womb), cervix, and ovaries

• High blood pressure

If you have any of these conditions, consult your doctor before using hormonal contraceptives to see if they are right for you.

Additionally, hormonal contraceptives should not be used by women who:

• Smoke and are over the age of 35

• Have or have had certain cancers

• Have or have had heart disease or other serious cardiovascular disease

• Have severe migraines with aura (a neurological symptom)

• Have had a stroke

• Are pregnant or suspect they may be (a pregnancy test should be taken)

Also, the use of hormonal contraceptives may not be appropriate if you have certain risk factors for heart disease. Be sure to speak with your doctor about whether or not hormonal contraceptives are right for you.

How do I use hormonal contraception?

Follow the instructions of your doctor exactly. Different types of hormonal contraceptives should be taken at different times of the day and the instructions may vary from one type to another. Be sure to read any directions provided by the manufacturer and ask your doctor about anything you do not understand or are unsure about.

In some cases, you may be instructed to take the first pill in the pack during your menstrual period. Your next pack of pills is then started after the first one is finished.

While using hormonal birth control, you will probably need to have a physical examination, including a pelvic exam and Pap smear, before starting the method and at various check-ups. You should also have a complete medical history and physical examination by your doctor at least once a year.

Are there any activities or notes I should keep while using hormonal birth control?

Yes, it is very important that you keep a daily record of your height and weight as well as any activity that results in a loss of body fluids. You should also monitor your menstrual cycle and note any irregularities. These records may be useful in the rare case of side effects or in the event of an emergency.

You should also keep a handy record of your doctor’s phone number and take note of the 24-hour pregnancy help line, which is 1-800-PRENATE from the United States. If you become pregnant, you should stop using the pill and contact your doctor immediately.

What are the advantages?

Hormonal contraceptives are very effective and if used properly (as directed) have a high rate of effectiveness.

They have no effect on fertility after discontinuation. In other words, once you stop taking the pill, getting pregnant right away is still just as likely as it would be for someone who has never taken it.

What are the disadvantages?

Hormonal contraceptives may have side effects, which may vary from woman to woman.

Other possible side effects include:

• Changes in menstrual flow (increase or decrease)

• Nausea, dizziness, headaches, or weight gain

Hormonal contraceptives may not be best for you if you suffer from high blood pressure or various heart problems.

Also, some hormonal contraceptives use a combination of estrogen and progesterone, which may increase the risk of some types of cancer. This is most common in women over the age of 40 over the course of several years.

Talk to your doctor about your family history to determine whether or not this type of birth control would be right for you. Even after you stop taking the pill, the risk of some types of cancer may be slightly higher than before.

Does it affect future fertility?

No. Hormonal contraceptives do not have any long-term effect on future fertility. Once you stop taking them, your fertility returns to normal very quickly.

Are there any side effects for the male partner?

The male partner will not experience any changes in fertility or sexual ability while using hormonal contraceptives.

What should I know about when I go off of the pill?

When you go off of the pill, your fertility will return very quickly, but you should still always use a secondary form of birth control for at least the first two weeks after going off of it.

Does it protect against STIs?

No. Hormonal contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted infections. You can get the combo-pack that includes condoms at no extra cost, to protect against STIs.

What if I want to get pregnant?

It may take up to a year for your fertility to return after you stop using hormonal contraceptives, because they may have a delaying effect on fertility. However, your fertility should return to normal within six months to a year even if you are still having irregular periods while you are taking them.

Other questions?

Open discussion with your physician is always encouraged. These are suggestions and guidelines; they are not hard-and-fast rules.

Sources & references used in this article:

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The role of anxiety and hormonal changes in menopausal hot flashes by EW Freeman, MD Sammel, H Lin, CR Gracia… – Menopause, 2005 – journals.lww.com

Sex differences in anxiety behavior in rats: role of gonadal hormones by B Zimmerberg, MJ Farley – Physiology & behavior, 1993 – Elsevier

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are often depressed or anxious—a case control study by M Månsson, J Holte, K Landin-Wilhelmsen… – …, 2008 – Elsevier

Antenatal maternal anxiety and stress and the neurobehavioural development of the fetus and child: links and possible mechanisms. A review by BRH Van den Bergh, EJH Mulder, M Mennes… – Neuroscience & …, 2005 – Elsevier

Depression and anxiety during pregnancy: a risk factor for obstetric, fetal and neonatal outcome? A critical review of the literature by J Alder, N Fink, J Bitzer, I Hösli… – The Journal of Maternal …, 2007 – Taylor & Francis