Contraceptive pills-brain network linked: If you are taking contraceptive pills, you must read this
Contraceptive pills-brain network linked: Oral contraceptives are used by more than 150 million women globally. The most prevalent variety is combined OCs (COCs), which are made comprised of synthetic hormones. Contraceptive pills have been shown to influence the brain network involved in fear processing.
As per the study, use of COCs influence hormones on fear-related brain areas, the neural circuitry through which fear is processed in the brain.
When prescribed COCs, girls and women are informed of various physical side effects, for example, that the hormones they will be taking will abolish their menstrual cycle and prevent ovulation. However, the effects of hormones on brain development, which continues into early adulthood, are rarely addressed. Considering how widespread COC use is, it is important to better understand its current and long-term effects on brain anatomy and emotional regulation.
The team recruited women who were currently using COCs; women who used COCs previously but did not at the time of the study; women who never used any form of hormonal contraception; and men.
The study also compared the use of COC between different genders.
As per the reports, in men COCs may confer a risk factor for emotion regulation deficits during their current use
The impacts of COC use, however, may be reversible once intake is discontinued. Given that the vmPFC effect found in current users was not observed in past users, the findings did not support the lasting anatomical effects of COC use. This, the researchers wrote, will need to be confirmed in further studies.
There is still much to learn when it comes to women's brains and how they are impacted by COC use. Given that many teenage girls start using COCs during adolescence, a sensitive period in brain development; user age might also impact reversibility.
The synthetic hormones in contraceptive pills, typically estrogen and progestin, affect the body's natural hormone levels. These alterations in hormonal balance can influence neurotransmitters, potentially impacting mood, cognition, and brain function.