Overview of our study of women's health and well-being

Though our society is constantly debating what's "normal" and "healthy," there is surprisingly little data on how healthy women's well-being fluctuates on a day-to-day basis. The goal of this study is to understand how women's experiences of well-being change through time, and to investigate how some women's experiences are impacted once they begin using an oral contraceptive. To do this, we are seeking healthy women between the ages of 18 and 35, who are either not using any form of hormonal contraceptive, or who are about to begin using an oral contraceptive. Participants collect most of their own data in the comfort of their own homes, though it is preferred, if possible, that women meet with the researchers for enrollment and exit instructions and body measurements. 

The primary research questions in this study are:

  • How do women's experiences of well-being change over the course of four complete menstrual cycles?
    • What factors are important in determining well-being? Perhaps stress levels are important? Perhaps sleep patterns, changes in diet or physical activity induce changes in well-being?

  • Do women who begin using a combined oral contraceptive have different experiences before and during use of their pill?
    • Why? What factors are important in determining who has positive or negative experiences? Do natural hormone levels impact a woman's response to oral contraceptives? What about their attitudes towards hormonal contraceptives? Their diet? Their body fat levels? Their previous experiences of physical or psychological problems?
How we will answer these questions:

To answer these questions, we're recruiting two kinds of women:

1. Those who are about to begin using a combined oral contraceptive (as prescribed by a health care provider)

2. Those who are not using any form of hormonal contraceptive (non-hormonal forms, such as condoms or non-hormonal IUDs, are fine).

Each woman in the study will provide daily and weekly survey responses about their well-being (experiences of headaches, cramping, irritability, etc.). Data from the non-hormonally contracepting women will be used to establish a kind of "normal" pattern of well-being in women. Women who intend to use a hormonal contraceptive pill will be asked to collect salivary samples (for hormonal analysis) and to provide survey responses for one complete menstrual cycle before beginning to use their new pill; after that first month of data collection, participants can begin using their new oral contraceptive pill, and will continue to complete the well-being surveys for an additional three menstrual cycles.

For more information about participating in this study:

On the left-hand side of this page, there are two links to find out more about the study. Each of these will guide you to a new webpage that explains eligibility requirements, and provides more detail about what participation entails.

Indiana University IRB study number: 1302010605
To contact the researcher directly: rebedwel@imail.iu.edu