Taking Birth Control Could Have This Weird Side Effect You Never Knew About

by Talia Koren

One of the reasons I don't take oral contraceptives is because of the side effects.

Yeah, it's great for not getting knocked up, but being on birth control can cause bloating, achy boobs, headaches and nausea. Mood swings are pretty common too, but apparently, there's more to the relationship between emotions and birth control than we think.

Personally, I had a ton of mood swings while taking the pill. So for my sake (and everyone else's), I went off. Condoms are my best friend.

New research shows that birth control pills can affect your ability to process emotions, especially on the days you're not on the pill.

Researchers assessed 73 adult women: 30 who were on the pill, 18 who didn't take birth control at all and 25 who were on their "pill-free" week. They wanted to see how birth control influenced women's ability to empathize. Researchers were interested in three different aspects of empathy: emotion recognition, perspective-taking and emotional responsiveness.

Sina Radke, one of the authors of the study, said,

If OC use is linked to a reduced ability to recognize emotions, this might ultimately have negative consequences for relationship quality… by leading to more conflict.

The first two tests for emotional recognition and perspective-taking didn't show much difference between women who were on or off birth control, but the last test showed a significant difference.

The researchers had women read short hypothetical situations that would make them react emotionally. Then they chose an emotion they would feel in real life if they were in that scenario.

The results of the last test showed women on birth control had stronger emotional reactions to the situations compared to the other groups of women. Researchers say the difference is caused by a higher presence of hormones in women who take birth control.

Not a ton of research has been done to see how birth control affects how we process emotions, but small studies like this point out that more investigation will have to happen. The way birth control affects emotions and reactions are more than just mood swings.

This research is important in figuring out how birth control affects women, other than protecting them from unplanned pregnancies, so women can make better choices when picking a brand. And it could also explain why birth control altered my (and other women's) moods and emotional reactions.

Citations: Oral contraceptives affect responsiveness to emotions, study says (PsyPost)