When women are considering birth control options, there are a number of things they have to consider. From how it works, effectiveness, how long it lasts, what doctors recommend, and more, there are also a number of factors that determine if a given form of birth control is the right one for you. Possible reported side effects are also important things to consider. Does birth control make you tired? Will it help you clear up acne or make it worse? Does it affect your libido? Although some potential birth control side effects, like developing blood clots, are quite serious, others are more of an annoyance than anything else. Still, if the birth control method that you use zaps your energy and leaves you feeling lethargic and run-down, it could affect you productivity at work, upset your mood, and other aspects of your life. So what's the deal? Can birth control make you tired?
Dr. Norman Back, the chairman of the OB-GYN department at CentraState Medical Center, tells Romper that he's prescribed hormonal birth control pills to countless women, and has never heard of birth control directly causing you to feel tired. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that it doesn't, as he stressed over the phone, he's simply not heard of it doing so.
OB-GYN Dr. Angela Jones, Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor, has a similar experience, telling Romper by email that she's unaware of there being any clear, established link between hormonal birth control pills and exhaustion. "I have not encountered sleepiness as a side effect of contraception, though, theoretically speaking, I suppose it could happen, specifically when you look at, say, a combination oral contraceptive pill's mechanism of action, which includes decreasing androgen levels (testosterone being one of them)," Jones says. "This is accomplished by the increase in shb-globulin (sex hormone binding globulin) seen in women taking oral contraceptive pills. If we attribute things such as energy levels, motivation, sex-drive, etc. to testosterone levels, I suppose decreased energy [or] sleepiness (if you will) could possibly be associated with birth control use. It’s just that in my own clinical practice, I don’t see many women complaining of this."
If there is a true link, it's likely that most people see it as an indirect effect of something like lowered libido or motivation. That being said, given how over-scheduled and over-worked many women are, it's likely that even if they are experiencing sleepiness or exhaustion as a side effect of birth control use, they're probably attributing it to something else entirely. If there are innumerable reasons as to why you might be tired, you're probably not assuming it's your birth control right off the bat.
Although it's not necessarily known to make you sleepier, research conducted in Brazil in 2007 found that women taking oral contraceptives experience more efficient nighttime sleep than women who aren't. Could that be tied to oral contraception making women sleepier? Perhaps, but you can't draw any conclusions based solely on the available research. In order to get a better idea of birth control's affect on energy levels and sleep, more research is needed.
Ultimately, even though it's possible that your preferred method of birth control is, by virtue of decreasing testosterone levels, leaving you feeling exhausted or otherwise affecting your quality of sleep, it doesn't seem to be a complaint commonly registered with practicing OB-GYNs. Because there are so many things that can cause energy depletion, if you're experiencing this, it might be worth having a conversation with your doctor, who can rule out other causes. If you suspect that your birth control method is wearing you down, bring that up with your doctor, as well. Sure, they might first dismiss your worries or want to make sure that there's nothing else going on, but if it is the birth control, there's something that can be done about it. There are so many options when it comes to contraceptives nowadays, there's no reason to stay loyal to one that's making you feel terrible.