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Taking contraceptive pill reduces quality of life, finds study

Taking a commonly prescribed combined oral contraceptive pill reduces wellbeing and quality of life, one of the first studies to look at the link between oral contraceptive use and general wellbeing has found.

The researchers behind the paper, published in Fertility and Sterility, suggested that this finding may be behind reports of low compliance and irregular use of combined oral contraceptive pills among patients.

The double-blind, randomised controlled study, carried out by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, recruited 340 healthy women to receive either a placebo or an ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel combined pill over the course of three months.

Women taking the pill self-reported lower overall scores for general wellbeing than those taking the placebo, as well as lower individual scores for positive wellbeing, self-control and vitality. There was no significant difference in scores for depressive symptoms and anxiety.

The paper said: ‘Even a modest reduction in general wellbeing during OC intake should be of clinical importance and may explain the high discontinuation rate and irregular use of this contraceptive method.

'This possible side-effect thus has to be recognised and discussed during contraceptive counselling.’

Lead author Niklas Zethraeus, associate professor of health economics at Karolinska Institutet, said: ‘This might in some cases be a contributing cause of low compliance and irregular use of contraceptive pills.

'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.’

Readers' comments (1)

  • while a great believer in promoting use
    other contraception that has moved on from the combined pill,I do think the control group needed women who had had unintended pregnancies/earlier than expected parenthood factored into their wellbeing scores-and comparison to other actual methods of contraception - not just a placebo pill-would be wanted before this would influence my prescribing in anyway whatsoever

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