Hormonal contraception, an ally for our mental health?

According to a study, women who use hormonal contraception are less likely to commit suicide.

pIlule, plaster, implant, IUD… These contraceptives all have one thing in common: they contain hormones. And more than one in three people use it in France according to the latest numbers from Ifop, with the pill at the top of the list. But the side effects of hormones are of growing concern, especially with regard to the mental health of menstruating people: mood swings, low libido, episodes of depression, unmanageable premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with every cycle – it affects 20 to 40% of menstruating people childbearing age according to Inserm.

All these side effects are known to most users of hormonal contraceptives, and a Finnish study, which aimed to demonstrate their harmful effect on our mental health, has just shown that hormones can actually be beneficial for it† Indeed, researchers from the University of Helsinki observed nearly 600,000 women, whether they were using contraception or not, for 3 years. Their findings are all the more surprising because they are unpredictable: people who did not use hormonal contraception were 37% more likely to commit suicide than people using hormonal contraception.

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In other words, they noted that taking hormones did not change the psychological wax, but on the contrary stabilized it, reports Terrafemina. By adjusting the levels of sex hormones, hormonal contraceptive methods will not only prevent pregnancies, but also facilitate the control of emotions and cognitive functioning.

The happiness hormone responsible for mood swings

“We found that women with no psychiatric history and who used hormonal contraceptives, especially those containing ethinyl estradiol, experienced a significantly reduced risk of suicide attempt compared to women not using hormonal contraception,” said a researcher who participated in the study.

While this announcement is good news, it’s better not to announce the victory too soon. Indeed, women who use hormonal birth control secrete more oxytocin, the hormone of happiness, than average, and this disorder is said to be the cause of mood swings – especially an increase in emotionality – explains another study published in the journal Scientific Reports† “For the first time, we have evidence that changes in oxytocin levels, in response to taking birth control pills, lead to mood disorders in some women,” said Professor Michael Winterdahl, co-author of the study.

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