The development of oral contraceptives, often referred to as birth control pills, is an incredible milestone in society, revolutionizing women’s health care and changing lives, according tomedia Slash Gear. However, the pill has many potential drawbacks, the most important of which is the possibility of causing emotional problems and hormonal disorders. A new study has revealed these problems, suggesting that key brain regions of women taking the pill may experience significant atrophy.
A new study presented Wednesday at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America suggests that oral contraceptives are associated with a “significantly smaller” volume of the hypothalamus, which regulates vital functions in the body. In addition to producing hormones, the hypothalamus can also control libido, mood, body temperature, heart rate, appetite and sleep cycle. Despite its small size, the hypothalamus is an important part of the brain, the researchers note.
The researchers used a proven method to study MRI brain scans in 50 healthy women, 21 of whom took the pill. According to Dr. Michael Lipton, one of the researchers behind the project:
We found significant differences in brain structure between women who were taking oral contraceptives and women who did not. This study shows a strong correlation and should lead to further research into the effects of oral contraceptives on brain structure and their potential effects on brain function.
Preliminary findings suggest that a decrease in the volume of the hypothalamus is associated with an increase in the onset of depression and anger. However, the same study found no evidence that scaling down had an effect on cognitive ability.