Birth control pills have been known to cause weight gain, mood swings and nausea. Now a new study claims there may be another troubling side effect to the drug; it could shrink your brain. Neuroscientists have found that two key brain regions responsible for emotion and decision-making are thinner in people who take the Pill. Read more from the DailyMail:
Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles say the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cigulate cortex can shrink in response to synthetic hormones found in the drug. Artificial substances in the drug block natural hormones triggering changes in brain shape and function, according to the study in the journal Human Brain Mapping.
For the study, lead author, Nicole Petersen, recruited 90 women, with 44 women on combined birth control and 46 women who did not use any type of hormonal birth control. Brain scans revealed the orbitofrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making, and posterior cigulate, which processes emotions, were smaller than average in those taking the Pill.
Researchers are still unsure whether this shrinkage is permanent, and are now planning further studies to find out. The research was also unable to find out whether changes in cortex thickness were reflected in any actual changes in the behaviour of women who take the pill.
‘Future studies will be needed to assess whether the effects reported here that did persist during the inactive OC week last for weeks, months, years, or permanently,’ the authors wrote.