New study points to alarming increase in depression for women who take the pill
A massive new study confirmed that women taking oral contraceptive birth control are more likely to be treated for depression. Much more. The onus for ingesting hormonal birth control has always been on women. Maybe this new study will finally force doctors to realize that maybe it shouldn’t be.
The University of Copenhagen tracked one million Danish women between the ages of 15 and 34 for a total of 13 years. Researchers found that women taking the combined oral contraceptive pill were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using progestin-only pills (aka “the mini-pill”) were 34% more likely. And teens? Their depression risk increased 80% when taking the combined pill, and it was double that with the mini-pill.
Those are pretty alarming numbers. Especially when you consider research for a male contraceptive pill has essentially gone nowhere because of hormonal side effects. NY Magazine explains, “Using hormones to prevent sperm creation requires really high doses that cause side effects. Since women’s birth control already has side-effect problems and men are fertile for much longer than women are, this wouldn’t be an improvement on current offerings.” Oh, really? Says who?
Male hormonal birth control has made no progress for years because many of the same side effects we’ve seen for women are deemed just too much for men to take.
And what are these side effects of hormonal birth control for men? Here’s a list from Medscape:
“Participants in clinical trials of current formulations have reported frequent side effects, including night sweats, frequent changes in mood and libido and changes in body composition (weight or fat gain)… A 2011 Phase II trial of injectable testosterone undecanoate and injectable norethindrone enanthate was terminated owing to reports of depression in participants… However, there is no evidence of long-term risks and similar safety concerns apply to all hormonal female methods.”
Night sweats. Frequent changes in mood and libido. Weight gain. DEPRESSION. Oh, but we wouldn’t want to bother men with that now would we? Why should they take birth control even though they are fertile every fucking day and we’re only fertile a few days a month? Wouldn’t want to put them out. Wouldn’t want them getting fucking fat, or depressed, or put a dent in their powerful man-libidos.
“It seems that no study will ever be good enough for the medical community to take women’s experiences seriously,” writes Holly Grigg Spall, a journalist who’s spent spent the past eight years researching and writing on the emotional and psychological side-effects of hormonal birth control. “As soon as this research dropped, the experts lined up to deliver their usual mix of gaslighting and paternalistic platitudes. We’re told not to be alarmed, concerned, or deterred from continuing to use our hormonal contraceptives, mostly by men who have never and will never take them themselves (partly because the long-term, large-scale study undertaken by WHO on the “acceptability” of the male pill revealed it would negatively impact their emotional wellbeing).”
Women are twice a likely to experience depression as men. Yet the same adverse side effects that have stopped the male pill from hitting the shelves are A-OK for women? It would be nice if researchers and pharmaceutical companies approached women’s health with the same care that they approach men’s.
If this new study proves anything, it’s that we need to stop brushing a woman’s emotional health aside and telling her to buck up and endure.