TAKING the Pill could be saving women’s lives, a study has found.
Women on hormonal birth control are aware that one of the side effects can be moodiness.
And previous studies have suggested that this could lead to depression or attempted suicide.
Dr Elena Toffol and researchers at the University of Helsinki sought to confirm if this were true, given the concerns about safety.
She said: “Many women using hormonal contraceptives, especially contraceptive pills, report mood changes as a side effect.
“Initial reports from 2018 and 2020 had indicated that use of hormonal contraceptives was associated with a higher number/risk of suicides and suicide attempts.”
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Hormonal contraceptives include the Pill, the implant, patches and vaginal rings.
The researchers used several Finnish national databases to compare attempted suicide rates between women who were, and were not, using hormonal contraceptives.
Between 2017 and 2019, they looked at 587,823 women – around half the total number of women aged 15-49 in Finland.
Half of these women had used hormonal contraceptives.
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Suicide rates were similar between the two groups in those aged between 15 and 19 years old – the age at which suicide was highest.
But suicide rates dropped in hormonal contraceptive users of older age, particularly those in their 20s.
In total the researchers saw 474 cases of attempted suicide in women who didn’t use hormonal contraceptives, and 344 attempts in women who did.
Overall, women not using contraceptives had a 37 per cent greater odds of attempting suicide in comparison with those using hormonal contraceptives.
Dr Toffol said the results are “not what we expected” – but it’s “good news for contraceptive users”.
She said the study was stronger than those previously, owing to its large size and wide age range.
“We found that women with no psychiatric history and using hormonal contraceptives, specifically those containing ethinylestradiol had a significantly reduced risk of attempting suicide than women not using any hormonal contraception,” Dr Toffol concluded.
Commenting, Professor Andrea Fiorillo of University of Campania, Naples, said the findings were “striking”.
They are important given millions of women in the UK take the contraceptive pill – the most popular form of contraception – and suicide is the leading cause of death of under-35s in the UK.
It's why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone suicide prevention campaign to raise awareness of the issue.
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For those having thoughts of suicide, there are resources available.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US) on 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), or the Samaritans (UK) on 116 123.
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