I started taking birth control pills when I was a teenager and for the next decade of my life. I never questioned my choice for preventing pregnancy. Like most women my age, popping birth control pills became part of my daily routine, kind of like brushing my teeth. It wasn’t until I got married and went off the pill that I realized how much a hormonal birth control pill had affected my mood for the past 10 years, and not in a good way.
For the entirety of my 20s, I struggled with depression and anxiety, for seemingly no reason. Sure, I faced my fair share of bumps on the road of life: an overly demanding boss who was intent on making me miserable and boyfriends who weren’t ready to commit. But even when things were pretty good, I always felt forlorn and on edge. I figured these difficult emotions plagued every woman at my stage of life. Plenty of my friends confessed to also feeling down and worrying.
But later, I would realize that most of these friends were, like me, also taking birth control pills. And like me, they noted a marked shift in their moods once they put an end to their pill-popping days. Literally as soon my husband and I were ready to start trying for a baby and I tossed my pill pack, I felt happier, lighter, and less overwhelmed and worried. Things seemed a little brighter, and daily tasks felt less daunting.
That oral contraception can change your mood is a known side effect. But studies conflict over whether birth control causes depression. Regardless, in my mind it makes sense that when you are altering the hormone levels in your body, it has the ability to impact how you feel.
Ultimately, I don’t need clinicians to prove a link between depression, anxiety, and the birth control pill. Feeling blue and angsty almost all the time for a decade is all the evidence I need that oral contraception isn’t a good fit for me. I haven’t taken birth control for 10 years as my husband and I have focused on growing our family. But now it’s time to start thinking about our future birth control plans, and I figure it’s his turn. Time to schedule that vasectomy!