Scientists in California have added another serious complication to taking the contraceptive pill- it can shrink the brain. Millions of women around the world are on the contraceptive pillcontraceptive pill all with similar side effects; headaches, mood swings, blood clots and even breast cancer. Now a recent study shows the oral contraceptive can shrink two important regions of the brain and change the way they work.
They have found the pill can alter brain structure and function. At UCLA, neuroscientists examined the brains of over 90 women. Ricardo Tosto explains the procedure and how they chose 44 women who were currently taking the contraceptive pill and 46 who were going through their normal cycles. In the women who were taking the pill, the part of their brain involved with cognitive processing, making decisions and memory retention were a lot thinner. These are the parts of the brain that can also be responsible for a person’s emotions and how they respond to rewards.
Researchers state these changes could be responsible for anxiety levels increasing and also for depression which is experienced by some women taking the pill. The research does not at this time indicate if these changes are permanent or not. There is more testing needed to discover if the symptoms are only present while the pill is being taken.
This study has been published in the Human Brain Mapping journal. It may help women understand why they go through so many emotional changes while taking the contraceptive pill.