When the first hormonal birth control pill entered the market on 23 June 1960, it symbolised a massive step in the right direction for women’s rights.
Taking one little pill per day meant women were able to have sex and not worry about getting pregnant.
We mean, obviously there was still a very small chance you could fall pregnant while taking the pill, not to mention the fact it doesn’t protect against STIs, but still… it was revolutionary.
And it is still is revolutionary today, but it’s also proof that one size certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to women’s bodies and mental health.
For many women, the side effects of the oral contraceptive pill can actually outweigh its overall convenience. From acne, hair loss and weight gain, to severe changes in libido, mental health and mood, women report all kinds of side effects.
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Speaking to Mamamia, Sydney-based GP Dr Ginni Mansberg says that while the pill was and remains an “amazing invention that has given women so much,” there are some women who “simply cannot tolerate the pill”.
“When it comes to the side effects of the pill, by far the most common thing I hear is that ‘it turned me into a psycho,'” says Dr Mansberg.
“We’re only now accumulating better data and objective evidence that it does cause either depression or anxiety.”
Nobody knows this better than the women who’ve had these less-than-ideal experiences on the hormonal birth control pill. Mamamia spoke to some of them.
I’ve been on the pill several times over the years, and went back on it about 18 months ago after having my two kids. I only lasted about six months on it after suffering anxiety and crazy mood swings. I was at the point where I saw my GP for a mental health plan and seriously thought I was losing my sh*t.
It was scary. My husband suggested that it might be because of the pill so I stopped taking it. Within a few days, I felt like myself again and I vowed to never ever take hormonal contraceptives again. I am now about 10 months off and I’m yet to have a period – I’m still trying to figure this out. I have seen my GP, had all the blood tests, pelvic ultrasound and over two months of weekly acupuncture sessions and Chinese Herbs. Nobody can tell me why I have no cycle.
I’ve also experienced insomnia and a total loss of libido. I know the pill has done a lot for women, but it frightens me how many side effects there are that a lot of women are unaware of, particularly mental health.
I went on the pill at 16 because I had a period that lasted for four weeks straight and suffered clotting, to the point where I was pretty much anaemic and had very low iron levels. I went on the pill and experienced the absolute worst mood swings of my life. It thankfully helped the clotting but emotionally, it was a hard time. I ended up changing pills and went on the mini pill (Yaz) and experienced zero problems after that. My advice would be to explore different options, if you need to. Just because one pill doesn’t work for you, there are always other alternatives out there.