Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A new study should put women who use birth control at ease: hormonal contraception is not linked to depression.
Researchers at Ohio State University examined thousands of studies on the mental health of hormonal birth control and found depression is not a side effect, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Contraception.
Nearly 37 million women in the United States use a form of birth control, according to a National Institutes of Health survey of women aged 15-44 between 2011 and 2013.
Two-thirds of women opt for a non-permanent hormonal method such as an oral pill, but around 30 percent of pill users have discontinued using them because of dissatisfaction with potential side effects.
"Depression is a concern for a lot of women when they're starting hormonal contraception, particularly when they're using specific types that have progesterone," Dr. Brett Worly, lead author of the study and an OB/GYN at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said in a press release. "Based on our findings, this side effect shouldn't be a concern for most women, and they should feel comfortable knowing they're making a safe choice."
Worly and the researchers analyzed 2,305 studies and identified 26 that met the inclusion criteria, including five randomized controlled trials, 11 cohort studies and 10 cross-sectional studies.
Data included various contraception methods, including injections, implants and pills. Researchers also reviewed studies examining the effects of hormonal birth control on postpartum women, adolescents and women with a history of depression.
In all of them they concluded there is insufficient evidence to prove a link between birth control and depression, though they say that doesn't mean women on birth control won't be depressed.
"Adolescents and pregnant moms will sometimes have a higher risk of depression, not necessarily because of the medicine they're taking, but because they have that risk to start with," Worly said. "For those patients, it's important that they have a good relationship with their healthcare provider so they can get the appropriate screening done -- regardless of the medications they're on."
Worly said women should have open and honest discussions with their doctor about their best options for birth control.
"We live in a media-savvy age where if one or a few people have severe side effects, all of a sudden, that gets amplified to every single person," he said. "The biggest misconception is that birth control leads to depression. For most patients that's just not the case."