As young women ditch the pill, specialists warn of ‘natural’ contraception risks

People with no acknowledged medical credentials are making contraception claims that some younger folks could think about correct, Temple-Smith stated.

“I was very horrified with the TikTok stuff I observed … a young person might easily think these are people who know what they’re talking about.”

She is especially fearful that the “withdrawal” methodology of contraception is anecdotally trendy amongst these wishing to keep away from hormonal contraception and that some younger folks imagine it to be far simpler at stopping being pregnant than it usually is.

However, psychiatrist and Monash University Professor Jayashri Kulkarni stated the issues of younger girls about potential hostile affect of the capsule on their psychological well being must be taken critically. Much research, together with her July 2022 paper Hormonal contraception and temper issues, has demonstrated a hyperlink between the capsule and despair in sure teams of girls.

“The pill does have the potential to cause depression, it is a problem,” Kulkarni stated. “The oestrogen component is good for the brain, but most pills have a synthetic progesterone that is bad for depression and some are particularly bad for mental health.”


Women pre-disposed to despair, who’re in very aggravating conditions or who’ve skilled trauma are amongst these most certainly to expertise psychological well being points whereas on the capsule.

“Women are voting with their feet on this; they’ve known for ages that there’s something not right in their own mental health when they’ve taken the pill, often tried to tell their practitioner and got nowhere.”

Few tablets have been put by means of rigorous scientific trials for his or her impact on girls’s moods and just one presently accessible – Zoely – is marked as “mood neutral”.

Melbourne pupil Zoe Aarons determined to come back off the capsule after realising it was affecting her moods badly. “I just found myself more sensitive, more emotional, more irritable and I didn’t know why,” she stated.

After altering her contraception to an IUD, the “uncontrollable moods” ceased, she stated.

Aarons stated younger girls weren’t educated sufficient concerning the contraception strategies accessible, the pluses and minuses of every. “I think if [young women] were given the full spiel, a lot more would be not taking the pill,” she stated.

Zoe Aarons discovered nice enchancment in her temper as soon as she stopped taking the capsule and had an IUD administered.Credit:Justin McManus

Tayla Miksad has additionally skilled psychological well being negative effects linked to the capsule and is contemplating an IUD. Having made an knowledgeable choice to go on it, a few months in she skilled a dramatic change in her temperament, behaviour and temper.

“It made me more emotionally unstable and volatile,” she stated, including that her signs included depressive episodes.

“I was still doing the same kind of things as before I went on the pill. I was happy in my job and all of that. It was a process of elimination to realise it was the pill causing all of these symptoms.”

Miksad stated her signs had been relieved after she give up the treatment final yr.

Tayla Miksad says her experience on the pill was traumatising.

Tayla Miksad says her expertise on the capsule was traumatising.Credit:Eddie JIm

Temple-Smith stated that for these in search of very dependable contraception with no hormones, the copper IUD, which is 99.5 per cent efficient, was ultimate. But take-up of such capsule alternate options “hasn’t gone up as much as we’d hoped – it’s only been a couple of per cent in the last decade”.

Obstetrician and GP Dr Ines Rio stated she had famous a rise in younger girls elevating legitimate questions concerning the negative effects of hormone-based contraception strategies, however many weren’t well-informed of “the very high likelihood you will get pregnant” with out glorious contraception.


Some girls utilizing fertility-tracking apps imagine them to be extra foolproof than they’re.

“Some of the women I’m seeing are using fairly sophisticated apps to try to work out their fertile times, they’re saying, ‘I’m not going to get pregnant because this tells me when I’m going to ovulate’,” Rio stated.

“I talk to them about the fact that it might decrease [the likelihood of unintended pregnancy] from and 80 to 90 per cent chance of pregnancy from unprotected sex per year down to 20 to 40 per cent per year,” stated Rio, an Australian Medical Association spokeswoman.

She sees younger girls each week who’re distressed about being by chance pregnant.

Natural Cycles, the one so-called “digital contraceptive” to be TGA-approved in Australia, is pushed by an algorithm based mostly on the girl’s basal temperature, taken very first thing within the morning.

The fertility consciousness app, developed by CERN physicist Elina Berglund and husband Raoul Scherwitzl, is promoted as being 93 per cent efficient with typical use. It has not one of the negative effects of hormone-based birth-control, however was reported to Swedish authorities in 2018 after a hospital recorded 37 unwanted pregnancies among the app’s users.

Dr Elina Berglund and her husband, Dr Raoul Scherwitzl, designed the fertility-timer app Natural Cycles.

Dr Elina Berglund and her husband, Dr Raoul Scherwitzl, designed the fertility-timer app Natural Cycles.

Tina Aimes, a GP specialising in girls’s well being at Jean Hailes, stated it was constructive that younger folks had been speaking about their experiences with contraception is constructive. However, whereas it was encouraging that taboos across the topic had been vanishing, a lot word-of-mouth data could possibly be deceptive, she stated.

For instance, these wanting to make use of pure strategies resembling fertility consciousness apps usually don’t realise that if their cycle is irregular, they’re unlikely to work.

“There is not enough understanding of how [fertility awareness methods] work, the limits of its efficiency and what the ramifications of failure may be for that woman,” she says.

“The pill wouldn’t be available on the Australian market if we thought it was potentially dangerous for women to take.”

With Rebecca Sadique

  • You can discover a truth sheet on contraception strategies, by the Victorian Health Department, here.

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