According to a recent survey, women suffering from depression and/or stress are less likely to consistently use contraception. The study found "overall, women used contraception consistently 72 percent of the time. The most common forms of contraception were oral birth control or condoms. For women with depression, the odds of using contraception consistently each week was 47 percent lower than for women with less severe symptoms. For those with stress, the odds of using contraception consistently were 69 percent lower."
On our campus, we know that about 16% of our female population has been diagnosed with depression, according to a recent survey of Hopkins students. And more than that reported feeling symptoms of depressions. With so many women on our campus dealing with depression and stress symptoms we encourage anyone who is struggling with depression or stress to consider the Counseling Center as a resource. Whether it is for an information sheet, a one on one session with a counselor, a group session, or whatever meets the needs at the moment. If the Counseling Center isn't the best option for you, try the student group, APTT which is available to you in AMR 1 and Wolman most evenings of the week. For details check their website.
Unprotected sex can cause added stress on any person. A way to help reduce the risk is choosing the right birth control method. If being highly stressed or depressed makes someone forgetful then taking birth control pills might not be the best plan since they have to be taken daily and preferable on a timely schedule. Perhaps something like the IUD, Mirena, which is inserted by a doctor and is good for up to 5 years, or Implanon which is inserted by a doctor into the patient's arm and lasts for 3 years, or other methods that don't require daily reminders would be more beneficial.
This study reminds us that mental health is something to consider when choosing the birth control method that's right for you, just like we do with heart disease history, family history, drinking and smoking habits, and more on your doctor's intake form. All of this information helps a patient and the doctor decide what would be best for the person to use and be successful. The additional stress of an unexpected pregnancy or resulting STI are extremely stressful. To be on the safer side, consider life style and all realms of health when choosing a birth control option.
And if one is trying to protect against STIs, know that condoms are the way to go-- keep some handy-- just in case.