A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry has found a positive association between the use of oral contraceptives and suicide attempts and suicide.
The study, conducted by researchers based in Denmark, involved a review of nationwide registers that provided individually updated information about use of hormonal contraception, suicide attempts, suicide, and potential confounding variables. Using data from nearly half a million women, the study analyzed prescriptions and filled prescriptions for contraceptives, as well as deaths and causes of death, and compared women taking this type of birth control to women who did not have a history of contraceptive use.
Among women who used hormonal contraceptives currently or recently, the risk of attempting suicide was nearly double that of women who had never used contraceptives. The risk was triple for suicide. The patch was linked to the highest risk of suicide attempts, followed by IUD, the vaginal ring and then pills.
Compared with those who had never used hormonal contraception, the relative risk of a suicide attempt rose twofold 1 month after initiation of hormonal contraceptive use, and the elevation in risk persisted with a decreasing trend after 1 year of use.
“Women should be aware of this potential adverse effect of hormonal contraception so that they might consider alternatives if they develop depression after starting use of hormonal contraception,” Øjvind Lidegaard, MD, Department of Gynecology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, and Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, told Medscape Medical News.
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