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50 years of hormonal contraception : time to find out, what it does to our brain
AuthorPletzer, Belinda A. ; Kerschbaum, Hubert H.
Published in
Frontiers in Neuroscience, Lausanne, 2014, Vol. 8, Issue 256, page 1-6
PublishedFrontiers, 2014
Document typeJournal Article
Keywords (EN)hormonal_contraceptives / synthetic_steroids / progestins / androgenicity / ethinyl_estradiol
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-1293 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
50 years of hormonal contraception [0.36 mb]
Abstract (English)

Hormonal contraceptives are on the market for more than 50 years and used by 100 million women worldwide. However, while endogenous steroids have been convincingly associated with change in brain structure, function and cognitive performance, the effects of synthetic steroids contained in hormonal contraceptives on brain and cognition have barely been investigated. In this article we summarize the sparse findings, describing brain structural, functional and behavioral findings from the literature and suggest that synthetic steroids may contribute to masculinizing as well as feminizing effects on brain and behavior. We try to identify methodological challenges, explain, how results on endogenous steroids may transfer into research on hormonal contraceptives and point out factors that need to be controlled in the study of hormonal contraceptive dependent effects. We conclude that there is a strong need for more systematic studies, especially on brain structural, functional and cognitive changes due to hormonal contraceptive use. The hormonal contraceptive pill is the major tool for population control. Hence, such behavioral changes could cause a shift in society dynamics and should not stay unattended.

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