A first-choice combined oral contraceptive influences general well-being in healthy women: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial

Fertil Steril. 2017 May;107(5):1238-1245. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2017.02.120. Epub 2017 Apr 19.


Objective: To determine whether there is a causal effect of oral contraceptive (OC) treatment on general well-being and depressed mood in healthy women.

Design: Double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial.

Setting: University hospital.

Patient(s): Three hundred and forty healthy women aged 18-35 years randomized to treatment, of whom 332 completed the data collection at follow-up evaluation.

Intervention(s): A combined OC (150 μg levonorgestrel and 30 μg ethinylestradiol) or placebo for 3 months of treatment.

Main outcome measure(s): Primary outcome measures: global score of Psychological General Well-Being Index (PGWBI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI); secondary outcome measures: six separate dimensions of the PGWBI.

Result(s): The OC treatment statistically significantly decreased general well-being compared with placebo -4.12 (95% CI, -7.18 to -1.06). Furthermore, OC decreased the following PGWBI dimensions compared with placebo: positive well-being -3.90 (95% CI, -7.78 to -0.01), self-control -6.63 (95% CI, -11.20 to -2.06), and vitality -6.84 (95% CI, -10.80 to -2.88). The effect of OC on depressive symptoms and on the PGWBI dimension depressed mood were not statistically significant.

Conclusion(s): This study demonstrates a statistically significant reduction in general well-being by a first-choice OC in comparison with placebo in healthy women. We found no statistically significant effects on depressive symptoms. A reduction in general well-being should be of clinical importance.

Keywords: Depression; oral contraceptives; quality of life; randomized clinical trial; well-being.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Patient Preference
  • Placebo Effect
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reference Values
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Women's Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined