Progesterone and ADHD (Birth Control)

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Hcs10 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #77820


    I was diagnosed a few months ago (at 23 years old) and it’s recently come to my attention that ovarian hormones have an impact on ADHD symptoms!  I’ve always had terrible PMS and was fascinated — eating up all the information I can find on this subject.

    A couple things that concern me though:
    – Many articles mention high progesterone levels as having a “negative impact” on ADHD symptoms AND medication effectiveness
    – I’ve been using progesterone-only birth control for 4 years…

    However, I cannot find ANY literature on how a continuous stream of progesterone might affect ADHD individuals — or even how it affects women’s hormonal cycles in general. While there’s plenty of evidence that estrogen-progesterone birth control can help stabilise hormone levels, and that may help with ADHD, I’m not seeing anything similar being said about the progesterone option?  With only my own experience to go off of, I’d say my hormones are anything but stable… My PMS is still undeniably baaad and even as a newbie I can see how little my meds help me out during those times.

    Am I accidently creating an uphill battle here? Anyone else ever wondered about this before or have personal experience with different birth control methods’ cognitive impact?

    I’ll talk to my doctor, for sure.  But it’s just striking me as odd that so many articles look at hormones and ADHD during different life phases, but ignore this little square.

    Thanks for reading!

  • #77821


    Oops, note: I realize I’m not ovulating, so I don’t have a “true” period. But I still seem to experience cyclic hormonal changes that affect me physically/psychologically? I don’t know… all I can say is my acne gets bad, I feel like I don’t have a brain, everything makes me cry or bite heads off, and then I start cramping and bleeding. Doesn’t feel much different than a period to me. Seriously haven’t bothered to think about it at all until now since it prevented pregnancy and that’s all I ever asked of it

  • #77834


    I have been asking myself the exact same questions over the last few weeks and just wanted to chime in – you are not alone!  I’ve been on the POP for about 2 years after I had   unrelated issues on combined pills which I was on for about 5 years. As my body has started to return to a cycle I have noticed the advantages of being on hormonal contraception decline – where my moods used to be smoothed out by the progesterone pill I am now starting to get bad PMS in terms of mood and concentration as my body gets back into rhythym. I am not aware of having major PMS before, so it may be worth you exploring another option. However with the mixed pills they often include a “period” week so you would still feel some kind of monthly fluctuation of hormones.
    I have issues of recurrent depression and looking back am wondering if a spike in depressive symptoms is also linked to the progesterone.
    As far as my reading has led me progesterone basically does the opposite of estrogen, and estrogen increases dopamine. So progesterone alone could well reduce dopamine levels, worsening adhd. But just like you I can’t find any empirical studies to say if this is true or to what extent. If anyone knows more I’d be fascinated.

    • #79682

      Dx 33

      I used to take progesterone only and it made all my symptoms worse as well as adding really bad depression to the mix.

      I think it’s interesting when Hcs10 said ‘estrogen increases dopamine’- I always found eating soya daily really made things better for me. I used to be vegetarian and would drink a soya shake daily for protein. I was the most balanced I’ve ever been. I wonder if that was upping my oestrogen.

    • #79892


      I’ve heard of soya and dairy products being used as ways to alieviate PMS in the past. I think including oestrogen rich foods could be a good way of helping reduce general adhd-ness. I hadn’t really thought about that before, thanks for the insight! (But I have no medical knowledge except from Dr Google -and sorry I didnt even realise I’d spelled oestrogen wrong before haha!)

  • #77855


    Thank you for your response!! Dang, while it’s super comforting to know I’m not the only one curious, I’m still sorry to hear you’ve lost benefits that way.

    I’ve done a bit more digging while waiting for my next appointment but haven’t found much:

    My best friend just finished a capstone project on menopause for her nursing degree — one of it’s focuses was psychological symptoms and how/why they can be eased with hormonal birth control (among other things). When I talked to her about this her interest was piqued so she looked through the databases she has access to. Unfortunately, the only thing she found was a note saying “a study should be done”…

    For her presentation my friend spent a lot of time with a women’s health clinician who was really knowledgeable on the subject though and wants to put me in touch. Not sure how familiar she is with ADHD but I’d still be interested to hear what she has to say on ovarian hormones. If I get the chance to speak with her, I’ll relay her opinion 🙂

  • #77877


    That’s super interesting! That clinician sounds like a really good lead – even if she’s not familar with adhd I’m sure she will have some useful info for you. Likewise it’s something I will be discussing with my doctor in future – hopefully I get to see one more knowledgeable about adhd in women soon.
    You get used to managing it – just frustrating if it turns out extra stress could have been avoided. Still…better than being pregnant! Still your post makes me really hopeful – at least they know more work needs to be done – hopefully some valuable studies in the near future 😊

  • #78059


    Have you read these ADDitude articles on women, hormones, and ADHD?

    Women, Hormones, and ADHD

    Women with ADHD: No More Suffering in Silence

    ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #83922


    I literally just found your post on google while looking for the exact same thing. I’m 26 and I was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago. Around the same time I swapped from the copper IUD to the hormonal IUD (releases progestin hormone levonorgestrel into the uterus). The copper IUD was amazing except for very heavy periods and intense cramps. When I swapped, I went from being in a really good place mentally to months of horrendous mood swings to the point of being almost suicidal. I don’t really get periods anymore and my mood has definitely stabilised somewhat, but along with other medication side effects (ritalin) it’s really hard to know what’s really me.
    Despite being diagnosed less recently than you, it’s only in the past few months that I’ve actually really started looking at how seriously ADHD affects my life (is that a symptom?). I never even considered what the differences in hormone levels could have in regards to birth control. There are little to no people that I know with the mirena who have had any problems with their mood at all, except when I started googling and came to an ADHD subreddit..
    As a teenager I took the combined pill and then the injection (which I’m pretty sure was worse). I was also super depressed, and I didn’t know I had ADHD. I have no idea what was correlative or causative, but I’m pretty sure that I felt overall less bad during the years following, when I was on a hormone free birth control.
    I also can’t find a single journal article with anything more useful than ‘a study needs to be done in this area’, and it’s really annoying, because as you said, hormones have such a huge part to play.
    Hit me up if you find anything else, or can convince someone to actually do a study..

  • #83926


    I raised this discussion with my GP recently, and to be honest he didnt know much about adhd, but said IUDs that are hormonal dont deliver hormones into the bloodstream like pills do so it **might** have less drastic effects on mood and symptoms. He didnt really explain how or why but tried to push me towards a hormonal one rather than a copper coil (which I was tentatively considering) so your experience of both is really helpful, though I’m really sorry it was so awful for you. Oooh a new medically disturbing rabbit hole to fall down, to reddit!
    If you happen to still have a link put it in the thread 😊

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