The creation of contraceptive pills have allowed women to have control over their own fertility. While that’s been great and everything for women’s reproductive rights, it’s no secret that the effects of birth control pills can cause many altering effects on the body. Now, a new study will open up even more discussion on whether the pros of oral contraceptives outweigh the cons. Studies show that prolonged birth control usage may possibly shrink portions of their brain, affecting their function.
In a study published by Human Brain Mapping, neuroscientists at UCLA found that certain regions of the brain were much thinner in women who used birth control pills over women who did not. The two regions affected were the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which plays a role in regulating emotion, and the posterior cingulate cortex, which deals with thoughts and personal memory recall.
Nicole Petersen, the study’s lead author and a neuroscientist at UCLA said, “Some women experience negative emotional side effects from taking oral contraceptive pills, although the scientific findings investigating that have been mixed. So it’s possible that this change in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex may be related to the emotional changes that some women experience when using birth control pills.”
Studies suggest that the changes in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex cause anxiety and depression for some women when they start the pill, however it’s still up in the air whether those changes are permanent.
As of now, research on the effects of oral contraceptive use and the brain are limited, but scientists want women to be aware.
“The possibility that an accepted form of chemical contraception has the ability to alter the gross structure of the human brain is a cause for concern, even if the changes seem benign – for the moment. In any event, women need to have all of the medical and now, neurobiological, information they can use in informing their personal contraceptive decisions,” said Craig Kinsey, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond.
Having control over your life means being responsible for the choices you make. When it comes to your reproductive health, only you know what's truly right for you. It's completely okay to take in all the information about the pill's effects and question whether it really is right for you or not. In the same way, it's also completely okay to read these studies and think, "Oh no, I love the way my boobs look when I'm on the pill."
Most of the time we're sucked in by all the benefits, bombarded by all the good things of these products. But for some reason, the negatives trickle in and we're made aware of all the bad stuff very slowly over time. Regardless of whatever decisions you make, know the facts and know yourself.