While hormonal birth control is effective for preventing pregnancy and easing menstrual issues, a new study reveals the scary effects it could also have on women’s mental health.
A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that women who take hormonal birth control—that includes pills, the patch, the IUD or the ring—are up to twice as likely to attempt suicide, and three times more likely to die from suicide as women who have not used hormonal contraceptives at any point in their lives.
More specifically, researchers determined that the highest risk of suicide was by women who were using the patch, followed by the IUD, vaginal ring, and then contraceptive pills.
While the Danish researchers did conclude that the risk of suicide remains extremely low, even for women who do take contraceptives pills, the link is worth researching further, especially since hormonal birth control was also found to be linked to a higher risk of depression in an earlier study by the same team.
“We think the findings are a little concerning, and we think that the consequence of these findings is that prescribers of hormonal contraceptives should make a little more effort to assess women before they get a prescription,” says Ojvind Lidegaard, the study’s senior author from the University of Copenhagen.
In recent years, the birth control pill has been tied to a lower sex drive as well as gut issues and has been found to possibly affect your fertility (after you stop using it), but the mental health risks have researchers warning women and their doctors to take precaution when taking hormonal drugs.
“Women and their doctors should be aware of mood reactions as a potential side effect, so they can quit their hormonal contraception if they feel affected,” says Charlotte Wessel Skovlund, the study’s lead author, according to TIME. “Doctors should be more reluctant to prescribe hormonal contraception to young girls unless there are medical reasons to do so. Other non-hormonal contraceptive options, like condoms and copper intrauterine devices [IUDs], should be considered when only contraception is needed.”
Related article: This what happens to your body when you come off the contraceptive pill.