Taking the pill as a teenager. Does it really matter?

The problem with this question is not whether it’s right or wrong to take the pill…it’s exposing the fact that we are so ill informed. Why is it that we don’t educate young people (or any people) on the impact of hormonal contraception? And how have we accepted a system where we blindly obey and say yes to things that we really don’t know much about?

In my sessions and programs with women, something I often hear is - ‘...if I had have known more about hormonal contraception and the fact that there are other options for treatment and/or contraception, I may not have gone down that path?’

Like I said, this is not about what’s right or wrong but rather about being fully informed and choice. Are we making a true choice when we have not bothered to really understand something?

So, what is the impact of taking the pill and other HBC? And why are hormones important in adolescence?


Studies show that taking HBC as a teenager can have long-lasting impacts -

Increased risk for depression

A study involving one million women living in Denmark - concluded that women who are using the pill or other hormonal contraceptives are at an increased risk for depression. The study also showed that this relationship was strongest in teenaged women.


Long-term risk of depression

Findings suggest that the use of oral contraceptives during the teenage years can have an enduring effect on a woman's risk for depression, even years after she ceases using them.

Compromises peak bone mass

As women, we reach our peak bone mass in our early 20’s. We rely on our menstrual cycle to produce oestrogen and progesterone to support with process. Combined Hormonal Contraceptives may impair bone formation and therefore compromise peak bone mass.

Depletion of vital nutrients

In these formative years of growth and development, nutrients are a vital contributor. Oral contraceptives have been shown to deplete folic acid, Vitamins B2, B6, B12, C & E as well as the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc. All of which may be contributing to impacts mentioned above.


Masking conditions

By the very nature of how HBC works, it is possible that she will end up masking symptoms/conditions that will only need to be dealt with at a later stage. Yet not only will she need to address the condition and its underlying causes, but also the impacts of the HBC that in some cases, has worsened the original condition. Of course there are women who do not appear to be affected as much as other women during or after using HBC.


It is so important to ask lots of questions. It is your body. Yes the pill may be an easy solution…but always be open to considering all of your options once you are fully informed. Adolescence is an important, foundational period of life…as is your menstrual cycle. The benefits in understanding and connecting to this are far-reaching and life-long. And brings an enrichment to life you simply do not want to skip over.

Resources:

Anderl, C., Li, G., & Chen, F. (2019). Oral contraceptive use in adolescence predicts lasting vulnerability to depression in adulthood. Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 61(2), 148-156.


How Birth Control Pills Affect Your Nutritional Needs. (2020). Retrieved 2 September 2020, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-birth-control-pills-affect-your-nutritional-needs/


Skovlund, C., Mørch, L., Kessing, L., & Lidegaard, Ø. (2016). Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression. JAMA Psychiatry, 73(11), 1154.

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