Medically Reviewed

Can Birth Control Cause Fatigue? What the Science Says

Some people report feelings of fatigue after starting to take birth control. But is there any actual connection? Read on to learn more.

Does Birth Control Make You Feel Fatigued When You First Start? What the Research Says

While some people have reported feelings of fatigue upon starting to take birth control, the research is far from conclusive. And some people who take birth control report having had the opposite experience, noticing improved sleep and enhanced energy levels.

So, what are we to make of this?

Some birth control options do list fatigue as a potential side effect. This is true specifically of hormonal birth control, which is the main culprit when it comes to side effects related to birth control.

What forms of birth control can cause fatigue?

There are many different types of birth control available to you – some that affect your hormones, and others that do not.

Some popular forms of non-hormonal birth control include: condoms, vaginal gel, cervical caps/diaphragms, sponges-with-spermicide, and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs).

But the forms of birth control most likely to affect your body and lead to possible side effects are of the hormonal variety. Some hormonal birth control methods – all of which are either progestin-based or a combination of estrogen and progesterone – include: oral contraception (pills), IUDs, injections, vaginal rings, and skin patches. These methods affect your body’s hormone levels and can therefore alter your body’s natural rhythms, including your energy levels and your sleep patterns. Still, it’s worth noting that there’s been no definitive researched connection established between taking birth control and experiencing increased levels of fatigue.

How birth control can affect energy levels

To the extent that birth control can affect energy levels, this is likely due to certain nutrient depletions that have been associated with oral contraception. Nutrient deficiencies are a common cause of fatigue.

Oral contraceptives have sometimes been linked to deficiencies of B vitamins (B2, B6, B12, folic acid), vitamins C and E, and magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Deficiencies in any of these minerals can affect your body’s ability to function at an optimal level and even possibly contribute to feelings of fatigue and daytime sleepiness. If you do experience such deficiencies, a supplement routine might be a good option for you – just be sure to talk to your doctor first.

Some professionals maintain hormonal birth control methods are most likely to create imbalances in your body and lead to fatigue. If this is a concern, you can always talk to your OB/GYN about low-hormone birth control options, or even non-hormonal options.

Other potential causes of fatigue

There are several other potential causes of fatigue.

As has been mentioned, nutrient deficiencies can be a major cause. Iron deficiency, for example, is a common cause of fatigue.

Thyroid issues can contribute to your feeling more fatigued.

Sleep issues, too, can leave you feeling tired and lethargic throughout the day. Sleep issues are sometimes connected to other underlying issues, including diet and stress levels. Managing stress can be a good way to get better sleep and experience less fatigue.

Electrolyte deficiencies and dehydration can also make you feel tired.

In trying to determine what’s making you feel so tired, looking at your lifestyle is a good place to start. If you’re not getting a nutrient-rich diet, you can end up feeling worn down. Consuming too much alcohol can also add to feelings of fatigue and negatively affect your sleep efficiency.

When to speak to your doctor

If you’re feeling a little off, it’s important to keep track of how your symptoms are affecting your life. That’s true of fatigue, too. If you’re consistently feeling fatigued, get in touch with your doctor to book an appointment. Tell your doctor about your concerns about the effects of your birth control on your energy levels. Be truthful and forthcoming about your health history and current lifestyle.

A doctor can rub lab tests to figure out whether you’re experiencing any underlying condition or have a nutrient deficiency and come up with a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Such a plan may include switching to different birth control options.

Key takeaways

Nobody likes to feel fatigued. If fatigue is a problem for you, it’s important to get down to the root causes. Talking to your doctor can help you do that.

Your birth control may be part of the problem, but that’s far from certain. In fact, it’s more likely that other causes are to blame. Of course, you can always switch to a contraceptive that you and your doctor feel will work better for you. It’s possible that non-hormonal methods of birth control are less likely to contribute to fatigue. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek guidance.

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