Most females know that for all the good and reassurance that comes from being on “the pill,” there’s also a super annoying laundry list of potential side effects.
We’re all familiar: headaches, weight gain, mood swings, nausea, blood clots, and the risk of breast, liver, or cervical cancer.
Now, UCLA scientists have discovered that contraceptive pills have the potential to alter the structure of the users’ brains, which can lead to anxiety and depression. The pills’ synthetic hormones shrink two principal regions in the brain, changing their function and structure.
This same ingredient is thought to suppress natural hormones in the process.
The neuroscientists studied the brains of 90 women, 44 of whom took contraceptive pills, and found that both the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex were much thinner in the women who took the contraceptive.
So what does this mean?
Well, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is responsible for regulating a person’s emotions and response to rewards, and the posterior cingulate cortex controls their ‘internal state’, which includes processing emotions and identifying memories.
Because of this, women who take the pill could be at a heightened risk for anxiety and depression.
What isn’t clear, however, is whether the effects last once the woman stops taking the pill.