The association between depression and contraceptive behaviors in a diverse sample of new prescription contraception users

Contraception. 2022 Jan;105:61-66. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2021.08.015. Epub 2021 Sep 2.


Objective: Among women initiating new prescription contraception, we investigated the relationship between recent depression and a range of contraceptive behaviors.

Study design: We used medical and pharmacy records of 52,325 women ages 19 to 29 who initiated prescription contraception (pills, patches or rings, injectables, and long-acting reversible contraceptives) in 2014-2016 at a large integrated healthcare system in Northern California. Women had continuous enrollment for a year before and after initiating, and no records of prescription contraceptive use in the year before initiating. Depression in the year prior to initiation was dichotomized into (1) no depression indicator (reference group) or (2) depression diagnosis or redeemed antidepressant. Multinomial logistic regression models examined the associations between depression and method type initiated, and contraceptive patterns, timing of discontinuation, inconsistent use, and switching methods over a year after initiating, adjusting for sociodemographics and testing for interactions between depression and having a recent birth or abortion.

Results: Women with recent depression were more likely to initiate methods other than the pill, and the association was stronger for patches or rings vs pills among those with a recent birth compared to those without. Among women initiating all methods and the pill, those with depression were more likely to discontinue their method, use it inconsistently, and switch from it than use it continuously for a year.

Conclusion: Women with recent depression were less likely to initiate the pill; and when the pill was initiated, those with depression were more likely to discontinue use, use it inconsistently, and switch from it.

Implications: Women with recent depression indicators should be followed closely to ensure they have the support they need to meet their reproductive goals. Those who wish to avoid pregnancy may benefit from methods that do not require daily use.

Keywords: Contraceptive discontinuation; Contraceptive switching; Depression; Gaps in use; Prescription contraceptive method initiated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraception
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraceptive Devices
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prescriptions
  • Young Adult