Birth control is an important aspect of women’s health, serving not just as a way to drastically reduce the chance of pregnancy, but provide a means of mitigating disruptive, heavy menstruation. Some kinds of birth control pills even eliminate menstruation altogether. Birth control’s ability to ameliorate symptoms of menstruation is vital as an estimated 15 percent of women in the United States regularly miss work or school due to painful times of the month. A new study now finds this benefit can come at a price for some women.
The research, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, examined 90 women and found the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cigulate cortex to be thinner among those using birth control. The lateral orbitofrontal cortex is important for cognitive processing during decision making while the posterior cigulate cortex seems to maintain various important connections across the brain, although researchers are still pinpointing the role of this cognitive area.
“Some women experience negative emotional side effects from taking oral contraceptive pills, although the scientific findings investigating that have been mixed,” said Nicole Petersen, a neuroscientist at UCLA and the study’s lead author.
These changes can include increased depressive symptoms and anxiety. Only time will tell if the neural and emotional side effects fade over time if the individual stops taking the contraceptive.
Studies such as these aren’t meant to scare women away from birth control. Rather, this research presents all of the information needed for women to make informed decisions about their physical and mental health.
The Guttmacher Institute released a report in 2013 finding significant social and economical strides in women with access to contraceptives. Adam Sonfield, lead author of the report, says women have long known the benefits of birth control as it enhances quality of relationships and helps families remain planned. He also believes more women need access to family planning resources, noting some demographics not receiving the medical resources they need.
Other benefits found in the report include:
Feeling out of control is a difficult experience to live through and no woman should be left incapable of making medical decisions about their own body. Otherwise, mental and physical health can suffer, Sonfield says.
Sovereign Health Group of Arizona in Chandler knows the importance of mental health autonomy, so our therapists are trained to empower women and help them recover from trauma. To get started, call 866-598-5661.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer
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