Can Birth Control Support Mental Health?
You bet it can!
You might already know that in addition to preventing pregnancy, birth control can do a lot of wonderful things for your body (like reducing your chances of developing ovarian cysts or uterine cancer, as well as improving acne and making your period less painful). But did you know birth control can also support your mental health? Here’s how. For answers to specific questions about birth control as it relates to your mental health, make an appointment to visit a provider at your nearest The Right Time health center.
1. It can give you a sense of control
As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I rely on my IUD to give me peace of mind in a world where I otherwise feel out of control. A friend of mine with an anxiety disorder prefers to use birth control pills to completely suppress her period. For her, being in control of when and if she gets her period is not only convenient, but also reminds her that she’s in charge of her body. But all our experiences are unique, so speak to a health care provider at your nearest The Right Time health center about how contraception can help you feel like yourself.
2. It can alleviate some causes of depression
Hormonal birth control can help alleviate the depression symptoms associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). For many people, birth control helps to manage and even improve their moods.
3. It can reduce your stress and improve your sex life
Stress can take a toll on your sex life. In addition to libido loss, people who are stressed may experience anxiety and headaches, and people with a uterus might experience irregular menstrual cycles. Birth control is not a cure-all for stress and anxiety, but it can certainly reduce your stress and anxiety about getting pregnant if a pregnancy isn't in your plans (and you might find you enjoy sex more when you know you’re protected).
There are many types of birth control. How can you know which will best fit your needs? A conversation with a The Right Time health care provider is a good place to start. Here are some of the things you may want to consider:
1. Whether you already have medication to manage
For many people with mental illnesses, there is medication to manage. Taking a birth control pill at the same time every day can potentially add complications to that routine. Using a type of birth control you don’t have to take every day, like an IUD or an implant, might be easier. And if you’d rather avoid hormones, there’s the copper IUD, which contains no hormones of any kind.
2. Whether your medication could harm a developing pregnancy
Another thing to keep in mind is that some of the medications used to treat mental health conditions can be harmful to a developing pregnancy. If that’s a concern for you, it may be especially important to choose your birth control carefully to make sure you’re using a method that’s highly effective.
3. Whether your medication might reduce the effectiveness of certain types of birth control
While most medications don’t interact with birth control, there are a few mood stabilizers that can make some methods less effective and increase the chances of pregnancy.
There are many options, and together, you and your provider can figure out what method works best for your body and your mental health.
If you’re in crisis, call your mental health provider, 911, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or use their online chat to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time. If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.
Updated August 2020
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