How hormonal contraception affects behavior

While it was possible that combined hormonal contraception could have an effect on the brain and therefore behavior, it was likely that this effect would be small, said Professor Jonathan Schaffir, MD, and Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, who was not involved in the research.

“There are receptors for estrogens as well as other steroids in the human brain, and that, you know, we know that providing exogenous hormones can influence mood and behavior to some degree. That said, I think that the influence of oral contraceptives is usually small and it’s a small percentage of women who have any significant side effects that affect mood,” he told Medical News Today in an interview.

“I think that you know, rat behavior is a far cry from human behavior, so looking at more appropriate measures of mood and behavior in humans would be appropriate. But I guess my other takeaway from this study is that it’s always important to examine the components of medications that we use, and to try to include, particularly in the setting of hormonal treatment, the versions of hormones that have the fewest side effects and the best physiologic response.”
— Prof. Jonathan Schaffir

“We should also strive to create new medications with better response and fewer side effects,” he added.