Your Birth Control Pills May Be Messing With Your Brain

woman freaked out by birth controlLove, hate, or feel indifferent about 'em, birth control pills appear to do a lot more than prevent pregnancy. Research shows time and again that for all their positives, oral contraceptives can also come with side effects that should definitely raise our eyebrows. The latest: Apparently, the pill changes your brain. Literally.

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In a study published in Human Brain Mapping this month, neuroscientists at the University of California Los Angeles found that some regions of women's brains -- the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (which aids in regulates emotion) and the posterior cingulate cortex (involved in thoughts and personal memory recall) were actually thinner when they were on birth control pills

Unsurprisingly, physical changes to these areas of the brain are associated with alteration of the functions they regulate. In other words, the lead researcher Nicole Petersen says it's possible these brain changes could be related to the negative emotional side effects -- as severe as anxiety and depression -- that many women experience when they're on the pill.

More from The Stir: Birth Control Pills Lead You to Mr. Wrong

If that wasn't creepy enough, the jury is out on whether or not these brain changes are PERMANENT. Ugh. (But that's not the first time we've heard of the pill making long-term changes to women's bodies. Gallstones and quashed libido, thanks to binding of sex hormones, have also been reported long after women quit taking their Rx.)

All of that said, it's really common to hear a woman say she doesn't feel like herself, she feels "flat," she lost her creative or sexual or energetic mojo while she was on hormonal contraception. Or that she felt blue, anxious, or experienced a variety of other types of emotional imbalance. All side effects that we shouldn't minimize -- and that women deserve to be well-informed about.

For some, the pill may still be the right fit. But for others who feel the effects supported by this study, nonhormonal options (like the copper-T IUD or fertility awareness) may be a better, happier bet.

How has birth control affected you emotionally?


Image via iStock.com/katielittle25

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