First, the bad news: Hormonal contraceptives (basically every form of birth control except condoms and copper IUDs) increase a woman's risk of depression by 40 percent after just six months of use, according to a new comprehensive study. But before you swear off the pill (or sex altogether), let's weigh the pros and cons.
Birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies by giving women added doses of estrogen and progesterone to ensure their ovaries don't release an egg. Those added hormones can also help regulate periods and improve acne. But sometimes they lead to mood swings and, as the recent study showed, an increased risk for depression. That's a serious side effect, but it's also one that can be monitored closely by a physician. Be proactive. Talk to your doctor about your concerns with birth control, so the two of you can put a plan in place. That way you can get the protection you want while not compromising your mental health.