Oral contraceptives may affect perceived well-being

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  • Feelings of general well-being decreased with oral contraceptive (OC) use.

Why this matters

  • 100 million women use OCs.
  • Changes in well-being may be associated with the high discontinuation rates of OCs.
  • Estrogen and progesterone have effects on the brain.

Key results

  • Well-being decreased (assessed from a change in the Psychological General Well-Being Index [PGWI]) by −4.12 (P=.0085) compared with placebo.
  • Rates of depression (assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory [BDI]) were not different between groups.
  • Serum follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and total free testosterone decreased after 3 mo of treatment.

Study design

  • Single-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study.
  • Women aged 18-35 y who were willing to begin OCs were randomly assigned into combined monophasic group (n=169) vs placebo (n=171) for 3 mo.
  • Serum collected to analyze hormone levels.
  • The PGWI and the BDI were used to gather data on well-being and depression.
  • Funding: Supported by research grants from Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, Karolinska Institutet, and the regional agreement on medical training and clinical research between Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet.
  • Short length of study.