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How is Stress and Depression Affecting Your Birth Control?

How is Stress and Depression Affecting Your Birth Control?

Feeling stressed or depressed can make it harder to do all kinds of basic things—like get to work or school, sleep well and make decisions. Turns out it can also make it harder to stay on top of your birth control.

The study

Almost 700 women in Michigan, ages 18-19, took part in a multi-year study that asked them about their sex lives and their use of birth control. About one in four of them felt stressed out or depressed at the start of the study. Over the next year, the study found that:

  • Women who used high-maintenance methods—namely the pill, condoms or withdrawal—were most likely to forget to use their method or use it inconsistently.
  • The women who felt stressed were more likely to use their birth control inconsistently compared to women who weren’t stressed (40% v. 25%). Same for women who felt depressed in comparison to those who didn’t (36% v. 26%).

The connection

There are lots of ways that stress or depression could affect birth control use. Feeling depressed can make it a challenge to keep up with routine responsibilities like taking a pill every day or stopping by the clinic or pharmacy to refill a prescription. Folks dealing with stress or depression might have a harder time dealing with side effects from birth control. In fact, the same researcher found in earlier studies that women who felt depressed and stressed were more likely to notice changes in their weight or mood; they were also more likely to quit the pill.

In some cases, the cause of stress or depression can be sex itself. Some women may feel stressed or depressed because their partners are messing with their birth control or failing to use a condom or pull out when they say they will.

The take-away

If you’re feeling stressed out or depressed, the first thing to do is talk to a health care provider about it—even if the visit is about birth control or something seemingly unrelated. Your provider may be able to help you figure out how serious your stress or depression is—and they should definitely be able to help you find local or online support.

In an ideal world, all people would have the support and medical care they needed to manage stress and depression. In the meantime, study researcher Kelli Stidham Hall says super-effective, low-maintenance methods like IUDs or the implant may make life a little easier for women who are dealing with depression or stress. “Long-acting reversible contraception are highly effective methods which may be ideal options for women with depression or stress symptoms, who may be dealing with other life issues and don’t want to worry about their birth control.”

Tao of No Stress: 3 Simple Paths
5 Ways to Alleviate Depression
Is Your Partner a Birth Control Bully?


Read more: Anxiety, Depression, Gynecology, Health, Life, Mental Wellness, Pregnancy, Self-Help, Sex, Stress, Women's Health, , , , , , , ,

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Everyone should have the life they want, when they want it. And until someone is ready to have a baby, we believe they should have access to birth control. That’s where we come in. Bedsider makes birth control easier. How? By giving you everything you need to find it, get it, and use it well.


+ add your own
4:42AM PDT on Apr 25, 2014

The information in this blog is extremely useful for the people. social anxiety treatment

3:04AM PDT on May 13, 2013


8:16PM PDT on May 8, 2013


12:38PM PDT on Apr 26, 2013


12:16PM PDT on Apr 26, 2013

good information

10:08PM PST on Dec 26, 2012


3:08PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

interesting comments ...

12:21PM PST on Dec 22, 2012

I would have thought that if a person is depressed they probably aren't having sex.

6:02AM PST on Dec 21, 2012


2:43AM PST on Dec 21, 2012

That was meant to be "form" not from.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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