• Birth control pills are used by more than 150 million women across the world, with many starting to take them during puberty or as teenagers.
  • Researchers from the University of Ottawa School of Psychology found that it can have a significant impact on mental wellbeing.
  • They focused on the effects of synthetic hormones and if they had any behavioural or neurophysiological effects on the brain.

Researchers looked at the brain function between women who have taken oral contraceptives and those who have never used them, and found that those on the pill were more likely to suffer from stress. 

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The research shows that those who have used oral contraceptives also have an increase in activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain involved in complex cognitive behaviour, and were more likely to react to negative stimuli – which researchers suggest could lead to depression.   

They concluded that the oral contraceptive pill is related to significant structural changes in the brain regions, which could affect emotional processing and stress reactivity.  

Compiled by Phelokazi Mbude

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