Hormonal Contraception, depression, and Academic Performance among females attending college in the United States

Psychiatry Res. 2018 Dec;270:111-116. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.09.029. Epub 2018 Sep 15.


Associations between Hormonal Contraception (HC) and Depression have been previously reported, and indicate increased risk to younger women. These relationships need be explored and expanded to include measures of impact on Academic Performance (AP). Data was acquired from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), administered from Fall 2008 to Spring 2015 across 370 schools nationwide. The most popular HC method was oral, followed by an IUD, and vaginal ring. HC use increased across all ages groups 18-29, and then decreased in the 30-34 age group. HC use significantly increased the odds of ever being diagnosed with depression in all age groups. HC use was found to have significantly increased odds of reporting AP issues in the 18-19 age group and to have significantly decreased odds of reporting AP issues in the 25-29 age group. Adding depression as a moderator, HC use continued to significantly increase the odds of AP issues. Women and their providers should balance the risks and benefits of initiating HC. Specifically, younger women, and be advised of the risks that HC presents in terms of a potential association with depression. Efforts to develop standardized protocols for discussing the risk-benefits for HC therapy should be pursued.

Keywords: Academic Performance; College Health; Depression; Hormonal Contraception; Mood disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Performance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal