Hormonal contraceptive use and women’s well-being: links with body image, eating behavior, and sleep

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The goal of the current study was to examine associations between hormonal contraceptive use and indicators of well-being including body image, eating behavior, sleep and energy level. Drawing on a health protection framework, we expected that individuals who use hormonal contraceptives would be more attuned to health and report more positive health attitudes and behaviors on these dimensions. Undergraduate college women (N = 270; M = 19.39 years, SD = 2.43, range 18–39 years) from diverse racial/ethnic and sexual orientation groups completed a survey online. Measures included hormonal contraception use, body image, weight control behavior, breakfast consumption, sleep behavior, and daytime energy level. Nearly 1/3 (30.9%) of the sample reported current hormonal contraceptive use, with most users reporting use of birth control pills (74.7%). Women who used hormonal contraceptives reported significantly higher appearance orientation and body surveillance, lower average energy, more frequent night awakenings, and more naps. Longer duration of hormonal contraceptive use was significantly related to higher body surveillance, and engaging in more unhealthy weight control behavior. Hormonal contraceptive use is not related to indicators of greater well-being. Rather, hormonal contraceptive use is related to greater attention to appearance, lower daytime energy, and some indicators of poorer sleep quality. Clinicians who prescribe hormonal contraceptives should attend to body image, sleep and energy concerns among users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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