Hormonal forms of birth control, including birth control pills, vaginal rings, patches, hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants, and shots, are linked to a number of side effects that some patients find extremely unpleasant. The hormones contained in hormonal forms of birth control disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system and can also cause nutritional deficiencies in some people.
If you are taking birth control and have noticed that you feel more anxious while using your chosen form of birth control, you might be curious to know “Why am I more anxious on birth control?”
Does birth control cause anxiety?
Hormonal forms of birth control are known to cause a number of different side effects, but one of the most common is anxiety.
Although birth control pills have been the most frequently studied, all forms of hormonal contraception are associated with anxiety. Between four and ten percent of women have reported mood problems while taking the birth control pull, although most found that their symptoms were not severe enough to stop using their contraception of choice.
A literature review found that users of hormonal contraception reported higher rates of anxiety than people who did not use hormonal contraception. While any type of hormonal birth control can cause anxiety, it does appear that oral contraceptives, such as birth control pills, are more likely to cause anxiety than non-oral contraceptives, such as a vaginal ring or patch.
How does birth control cause anxiety?
Hormonal forms of contraception use synthetic forms of the hormones estrogen and progesterone to send signals to the reproductive system to prevent pregnancy. Both progesterone and estrogen are hormones that are known to affect mood, and fluctuations of these hormones, particularly estrogen, are found to cause anxiety.
One study performed in 2015 found that use of oral contraceptives is linked to a thinning of two areas of the brain, including the posterior cingulate cortex, which influences emotional stimuli based on our state of mind, and the orbitofrontal cortex, which influences behavior and emotion as they relate to external stimuli.
In short, the use of hormonal contraceptives can influence how people view both external circumstances and how they view and feel about themselves. In addition to the hormonal changes caused by birth control, people using hormonal forms of birth control are also more likely to experience nutrient deficiencies caused by use of the medication, which can lead to increased anxiety.
How do nutritional deficiencies impact anxiety?
The World Health Organization has recognized that hormonal birth control can cause nutrient depletions of essential vitamins and minerals including folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and more. The side effects caused by hormonal forms of birth control are linked to these nutrient depletions.
Of these nutrients, magnesium deficiency in particular plays a strong role in contributing to feelings of anxiety experienced by people who take hormonal birth control. Studies show that magnesium deficiency can cause dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and induce anxiety.
Because hormonal forms of birth control can contribute to a nutritional deficiency of magnesium, it stands to reason that side effects related to anxiety might improve with a nutritional supplement designed to address the deficiencies caused by birth control.
How can you prevent anxiety caused by birth control?
Because anxiety is considered a side effect of all forms of hormonal birth control, making a switch to a different contraceptive can be challenging for some women, particularly if they take contraceptives for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy.
Non-oral hormonal contraceptives are less likely to cause anxiety than oral contraceptives, so making a switch from the birth control pill to an implant, patch, or IUD may be helpful for some people.
Another way to address anxiety and other side effects caused by hormonal contraception is by taking a nutritional supplement designed to deliver therapeutic doses of vitamins, minerals, and mitochondrial antioxidants to banish side effects. The supplement should include magnesium, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety as deficiencies are corrected.