Governor Gavin Newsom has signed many bills pertaining to womens rights into law this year. Bills like AB 1264, which allows Planned Parenthood to prescribe birth control pills through an app and SB 24, which requires the California State Universities and UC’s to provide students access to abortion pills on campuses as of October 11th.
Although having that access is absolutely necessary and should be rightfully decided by those with reproductive organs, recently released research suggests a potential risk for teens taking oral contraceptives.
Research published last month in JAMA Network has revealed the correlation between depressive symptoms among youth and oral contraceptives.
1010 adolescents were studied for 9 years in the Netherlands. Users of oral contraceptives were found to experience “more crying, eating problems, and hypersomnia compared with nonusers”, but those effected most were 16-year-old girls.
“I think that we need to create a new standard of how medical professionals interact with adolescent girls taking birth control. I believe that is should be required that the doctor prescribing the oral contraceptives go over most of the common side effects as well as possible side effects to mental health” , says Raven Wilson, an artist, a student at Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School in Memphis, and an advocate for women’s rights.
Wilson, 24, has been taking oral contraceptives since she was a teenager and has not experienced negative side effects but encourages anyone considering birth control, to speak with a medical professional.
As birth control and sex education becomes more accessible for Californians, rates for teen pregnancies across the state are reaching all time lows. In the 2014 Sacramento County Birth Fact Sheet, there was a 48% decrease in adolescent pregnancies from 2005 to 2014. Between 2015 and 2016, an 11% decrease in teen births took place.
“I didn’t understand it when I first started taking them. Which is sad because most girls will feel like it is just them or they’re all alone. When we aren’t” says Kynedi.
Kynedi, an artist (who goes by creative.kynedi on Instagram) and an event organizer in Sacramento, shares her negative experience with oral contraceptives. Her hormone levels were changed drastically and her mental health was deeply effected when she started taking the contraceptives.
Cece, another Sacramento resident also reported negative side affects with the pill.
“Being on birth control makes me feel mentally incapacitated. At times it felt like I couldn’t let myself feel anything but the overwhelming sadness. I still take the pill and my mental side effects are still there but I’ve learned to deal with the thoughts and feelings” says Cece.
“In a bigger scheme I’d love for the medical field to fix this problem and find something with less depressive effects.”
An oral contraceptive with no harmful side effects seems out of reach, but a better connection between medical professionals and teen youth regarding their mental health is not.