Birth control pills may alter how women perceive fear

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Ismail, who has studied the impact oral contraceptives have on the brain, called the study “important” as the data is critical in better understanding women’s health. Photo: Pexels


(Katie Dangerfield/ Global News) — Birth control pills may adversely affect the brain’s fear-regulating regions in women, potentially increasing the risk of anxiety and stress-related disorders, according to a recent Canadian study.

The peer-reviewed study out of Quebec and published in Frontiers in Endocrinology on Tuesday found that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a brain region critical for regulating fear and emotions, was thinner for women currently taking oral contraceptives versus for men and women who never used the pill.

“This part of the prefrontal cortex is thought to sustain emotion regulation, such as decreasing fear signals in the context of a safe situation. Our result may represent a mechanism by which oral contraceptives could impair emotion regulation in women,” Alexandra Brouillard, a researcher at Université du Québec à Montréal and first author of the study, said in a Tuesday media release. (…)

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