A recent study reveals that taking contraceptive pill can physically alter your brain structure. This adds another toll to a list of side effects of the most used contraceptive method in the world.
The pill is currently being used by over 100 million women worldwide and although majority of its users reported high levels of satisfaction there are still a few who contradict its effectiveness and questions its very use.
Known side effects of contraceptive pill include mood changes to physical and androgenic effects such as acne and unwanted hair growth. The latter negative effects are caused by progestins. Progestins is the synthetic versions of the hormone progesterone used in oral contraceptives.
Many studies have criticized these side effects. Most of these studies however only focused on metabolic and emotional effects, few checked the effects associated in the brain until recently.
Recent studies have shown that taking contraceptive pill affects your brain’s capacity to handle cognitive tasks. Some pills also result in memory changes and even possibly, change in brain structure.
Scientists from the University of Salzberg incorporated 60 women in a new study according to Brain Research. They divided the women into three groups: one is taking pills with androgenic progestins, another is taking anti-androgenic progestins pills and the third those in normal cycle.
The researchers found out that women using anti-androgenic progestins had significantly larger gray matter volumes in several brain regions when compared with naturally cycling women (those who weren’t taking contraceptive pill). These areas of the brain include hippocampus – which is involved in learning and memory and fusiform face area of FFA which is believed to handle facial recognition. Those who were on androgenic progestins, on the other hand, had smaller gray matter volumes in certain brain regions when compared with naturally cycling women.
In simplest terms this means that women taking contraceptive pills using anti-androgenic progestins, experienced brain changes in areas that handle learning and memory as well as facial recognition.
The study also found out that women taking anti-androgenic progestins had significantly better performance in facial recognition test than those not on pill and those taking pills with androgenic progestins.
The study suggests both positive and negative effects of the two kinds of pills. Although this case still need more research it may be better to ask your doctor about anti-androgenic progestins and androgenic progestins contraceptive pills.