Adverse mood symptoms with oral contraceptives


  • Please cite this article as: Poromaa IS, Segebladh B. Adverse mood symptoms with oral contraceptives. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2012;91: DOI:10.1111/j.1600-0412.2011.01333.x.

Inger Sundström Poromaa, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, 751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail:

Conflict of interest
The authors have stated explicitly that there are no conflicts of interest in connection with this article.


In spite of combined oral contraceptives (COCs) having been available for more than 50 years, surprisingly little is known about the prevalence of truly COC-related adverse mood symptoms and about the underlying biological mechanisms of proposed changes in mood and affect. Precise estimates of COC-related adverse mood symptoms are not available due to the lack of placebo-controlled trials. In prospective trials the frequency of women who report deteriorated mood or deteriorated emotional well-being varies between 4 and 10%, but it can be assumed that the causal relation in these prevalence rates is overestimated. Adverse mood symptoms and somatic symptoms are most pronounced during the pill-free interval of the treatment cycles, but whether extended COC regimens would be more favorable in this respect is not known. COCs with anti-androgenic progestagens, such as drospirenone and desogestrel, appear more favorable in terms of mood symptoms than progestagens with a more androgenic profile. Available data suggest that lower doses of ethinylestradiol could be beneficial.