If you are like me, and many women, you probably started birth control when you were an adolescent or young adult. The pill is commonly used to manage heavy or painful periods, especially the crazy ones that can go along with the beginning of women’s periods.
Simultaneously, adolescence brings about new emotions of its own.
I like to call them, the “bitchy years.” Actually, I don’t call them that, but you know what I mean. Teenagers can easily go from being super sweet and thoughtful to wanting nothing to do with their parents or guardians. Emotions are high. Feelings are on sleeves. It’s a tender time.
Fast-forward to one’s 20s. I know I was a proverbial book-worm during a large portion of my 20s. I was so laser focused on school, I don’t know if I really noticed a change in my emotions due to birth control.
I didn’t realize the effect birth control had on MY temperament until I came off of it.
It really wasn’t until I came off of birth control in pursuit of pregnancy that I realized how unbothered I now was with little things that used to REALLY bother me. Critiques that used to get under my skin or little chores that I used to DESPISE were no longer that big of a deal. I had multiple revelation moments like this:
“Doc, don’t be mad. We made a mistake on your schedule. Can you see this patient even though she isn’t on the books?”
“Yeah, sure. No problem. Just put her in a room.”
*Thinking* Wow, these mis-schedule patients would have made me so irritated 3 months ago. Why am I so chill right now?
I still don’t think I REALLY put 2 and 2 together until I went back on the pill and found myself more irritable and tearful at things that I had become accustomed to not being bothered by. It became clear to ME that combined oral contraceptives (Estrogen and Progestin containing pills) and I do NOT get along.
Ironically I have a lot of patients who say that birth control IMPROVES their mood.
I was just talking to a lady this week who said her anxiety and tearfulness is much BETTER when she is on birth control or when she is pregnant. She says it “evens her out.” She is not alone.
Personally, I am in a much better emotional place with my IUD. My progestin-containing IUD makes me feel how I feel OFF of birth control. Even though it still has a hormone in it, the amount is much less than what is in the pill. I know that I am different emotionally because I can still reflect on years of being annoyed by things that presently have me unbothered. Maturity has done some of that, but I KNOW my hormones are part of the change.
The take-home message is that we are all different.
How we feel emotionally can be affected by our hormone status. Some ladies don’t report ANY mood changes from one birth control option to another or without birth control. Others will cope with day-to-day stresses very differently on the pill versus off.
Don’t be afraid to do your own self-assessment or to try different options. Just be safe and don’t leave your fertility un-controlled while you try to figure it out. Surprise pregnancies have their OWN VERY PROFOUND AFFECT on mood. IJS
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Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified OBGYN. She began practicing medicine in 2007 and now uses her extensive knowledge and growing following to increase health awareness in a fun and viral way. She is the founder of The Gyneco-blogic and an author of numerous books for adult and childhood health education and social growth. For more, check me, I mean her out at dreverywoman.com