Medically reviewed by Dr. Julie Graves, MD, MPH, PhD on March 18, 2020
Birth control can be a major decision for women with a history of bipolar disorder or depression. Hormonal birth control — pills, patches, shots, or rings — affect the chemistry of a woman’s body, impacting and altering her typical bodily processes.
Condoms, diaphragms, copper IUDs, and other non-hormonal options are the best forms of birth control for women who are bipolar. Non-hormonal birth control doesn’t interfere with your menstrual cycle or any other aspect of your health, ensuring that your chosen method of contraception won’t affect your mood or any medications you might be taking.
How Hormonal Birth Control Affects Bipolar Disorder and Mood
Research into the impact of hormonal birth control on mood, emotional well-being, and mental state has come up with a mixed bag of answers. While some studies suggest that women who take hormonal birth control are at increased risk of depression, others show no link between birth control and mental health.
Over the course of a typical menstrual cycle, levels of estrogen and progestin go through large fluctuations in a woman’s body. Hormonal birth control prevents these fluctuations by keeping estrogen and progestin levels relatively stable. For some women, this can regulate and normalize mood, while others might find it has a more negative impact.
Different hormonal birth control methods interact with different bipolar medications in different ways, so make sure to talk to a medical professional before making any decisions.
Your doctor might recommend a non-hormonal option, advise you to track any spotting you have, or ask you to increase your dosage of hormonal birth control. Some women with bipolar disorder have also found success with low-dosage birth control options.
For women living with bipolar disorder, the idea of hormones impacting their mood in any way can be scary. It’s important to remember that hormonal birth control was designed for women who aren’t living with a mood disorder.
Using Nonhormonal Birth Control With Bipolar Disorder
Non-hormonal birth control options, like the aforementioned condoms, diaphragms, and copper IUDs, physically prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg — preventing conception without altering a woman’s hormonal makeup. Non-hormonal options have no impact on mood, so they won’t negatively interact with any medications you’re on.
The downside of non-hormonal options is that they don’t prevent the biological possibility of conception. Non-hormonal birth control still allows the egg to be released from the ovary into the fallopian tube, putting you at risk of pregnancy if not used properly. Just as with hormonal birth control, non-hormonal birth control must be used exactly as instructed to be effective.
Regulating Mood While on Birth Control
Women with bipolar disorder should always consult with a medical professional on how best to regulate their mood, but there are still some things all women on birth control can do to counteract any negative impacts.
A boost in relaxation or physical exercise can have a positive impact on your mood, as can a healthier diet. These minor changes can have big benefits, but any serious issues with mood or mental health should always be reported to a doctor — not self-treated.
If you’re looking for a birth control option that works for both you and your health, get in touch with our team here at Nurx to determine what your next steps should be.