Oral contraceptives reduce general well-being in healthy women

One of the most common combined oral contraceptive pills has a negative impact on women's quality of life but does not increase depressive symptoms. This is shown by a major randomised, placebo-controlled study conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with the Stockholm School of Economics. The results have been published in the scientific journal Fertility and Sterility.

"Despite the fact that an estimated 100 million women around the world use contraceptive pills we know surprisingly little today about the pill's effect on women's health. The scientific base is very limited as regards the contraceptive pill's effect on quality of life and depression and there is a great need for randomised studies where it is compared with placebos," says professor Angelica Lindén Hirschberg at the Department of Women's and Children's Health at Karolinska Institutet.

She has led just such a study together with Niklas Zethraeus, associate professor at the Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Anna Dreber Almenberg from the Stockholm School of Economics, and Eva Ranehill of the University of Zürich. 340 healthy women aged between 18 and 35 were treated randomly over the course of three months with either pills with no effect (placebos) or contraceptive pills containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel, the most common form of combined contraceptive pill in Sweden and many other countries. Neither the leaders of the experiment nor the subjects knew which treatment was given to which women.

The women who were given contraceptive pills estimated their quality of life to be significantly lower than those who were given placebos. Both general quality of life and specific aspects like mood/well-being, self-control and energy level were affected negatively by the contraceptives. On the other hand, no significant increase in depressive symptoms was observed.

Since the changes were relatively small, the results must be interpreted with a certain amount of caution, the researchers emphasise. In the case of individual women, however, the negative effect on quality of life may be of clinical importance.

"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," says Niklas Zethraeus.

The type of combined contraceptive pill that was used in the study (etinylestradiol + levonorgestrel) is recommended in many countries as the first choice since it is considered to entail the least risk of thrombosis among the combined contraceptive pills. The findings from the study cannot be generalised to other kinds of combined contraceptive pills because they may have a different risk profile and side-effects.

The study was 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 (ALF) between Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet.

Niklas Zethraeus, Anna Dreber, Eva Ranehill, Liselott Blomberg, Fernand Labrie, Bo von Schoultz, Magnus Johannesson, Angelica Lindén Hirschberg.
A first choice combined oral contraceptive influences general well-being in healthy women - a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
Fertility and Sterility, doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2017.02.120.

Most Popular Now

In wine, there's health: Low levels of alcohol goo…

While a couple of glasses of wine can help clear the mind after a busy day, new research shows that it may actually help clean the mind as well. The new study, which appe...

Sanofi to acquire Ablynx for €3.9 Billion

Sanofi and Ablynx, a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of Nanobodies®, entered into a definitive agreement under which Sanofi will offer ...

Repurposed drug found to be effective against Zika…

In both cell cultures and mouse models, a drug used to treat Hepatitis C effectively protected and rescued neural cells infected by the Zika virus - and blocked transmiss...

Interim publications of randomized trials make new…

Early results from randomized trials are sometimes published before the trial is completed. The results of such interim publications may generate a great deal of interest...

More stroke patients may receive crucial treatment…

More patients could be eligible for critical treatments to remove or dissolve blood clots that cause strokes, according to a new treatment guideline issued by the America...

Drug trial protocol redactions by industry sponsor…

New research published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine exposes the extent of redactions in protocols for industry-sponsored randomised drug trials. Trial ...

Advanced Accelerator Applications receives FDA ap…

Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) announced that Advanced Accelerator Applications, a subsidiary of Novartis Groupe S.A., has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approva...

Blood vessel-on-a-chips show anti-cancer drug effe…

Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo, CNRS and INSERM, report a new organ-on-a-chip technology for the study of blood vessel ...

Guidelines extended to improve the use of feedback…

Researchers have recommended changes to international guidelines used in the development of clinical trials in an effort to gain information about the impact of the treat...

Roche reports good results in 2017

In 2017, Group sales rose 5% to CHF 53.3 billion. Core operating profit grew 3% and Core EPS increased 5%, reflecting the good underlying business performance. On an IFRS...

Brilinta significantly reduces CV events and coron…

AstraZeneca today announced results from a new sub-analysis of the Phase III PEGASUS-TIMI 54 trial, demonstrating a risk reduction of 19% in MACE (the composite of CV dea...

FDA approves new treatment for certain digestive t…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Lutathera (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate) for the treatment of a type of cancer that affects the pancreas or gastrointesti...

Pharmaceutical Companies

[ A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Z ]