Neural Changes in Women Linked to Hormonal Contraceptives Use, Study Says

First Posted: May 02, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

Hormonal contraceptives impact to the female brain structure, until today, is yet to be established due to a lack of within-person longitudinal observations.  However, previous research has already been made on neuroimaging and it showed how the female gonadal hormones is likely to modify the function and structure of an adult woman's brain.

In the said research, about 28 young females were compared before and after the three months of a regular intake of contraceptive, with another 28 normally cycling women of the same age. The objective of this research was to examine the within-person neural change in females who are using contraceptives, Science Direct reported.

The data gathered on hormones, cognition and neuroimaging were done at two time points for every female participant. The voxe-wise, whole-brain comparison of the two groups of women indicated a lowered gray matter volume in the women's left amygdala, anterior parahippocampal gyrus who are using contraceptives, compared to those in the control group. This region's resting-state functional connectivity with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was altered from positive to a negative connectivity after the female subjects' intake of contraceptives, in contrast to the outcome of those in the control group.  

Through an investigative evaluation, it was revealed that the gray matter volume of the left amygdala, anterior parahippocampal gyrus was related to a positive impact during the second time point. As for the cognitive performance change between the two groups, there were no systematic differences that were noted, Sagepub said.

The data that were collected in this research study has led to the  findings that offer the first insights into the effects of hormonal contraceptives on the female brain. Furthermore, the analysis could also help in broadening the previous findings made on the hormone-related amygdala, hippocamapal complex plasticity. Also, the brain regions that are affected could be associated with the woman's  psychological well-being, hence, emphasizing the significance of and the need for future research on the contraceptive-induced brain changes.

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