Contraceptive Research: Your Brain on Birth Control

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Lori Pace

Daily, millions of women use hormonal birth control pills. Unfortunately, they have been associated with causing neurophysiological and behavioral effects. Much contraceptive research has been done to ascertain what the synthetic hormones in the pills do to the brain. Some of the research aimed to find out the effect of birth control pills on your brain and response to stress. 

Others researched their effect on brain structure and behavior during puberty and adolescence. Various research found that there was a difference in brain structure between users and non-users. Women who begin using the pills in adolescence react less to stressors than those who begin using them in adulthood. 

Types of contraceptives in the market

Types Of Contraceptives

Contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancy and STIs. There are six main types of contraception. 

Hormonal contraception

These types of contraceptives use hormones that act on the endocrine glands. The endocrine system, in return, prevents ovulation so that there is no egg to fertilize. The hormones also thicken the mucus found on the cervix. This prevents sperm from swimming to an egg. 

Long-acting reversible contraception

These are contraceptives that last in the body for a long time. Once implanted or inserted, the user no longer needs to remember to take contraception daily or monthly. They include IUDs and implants. 

Emergency contraception

This is hormonal birth control taken after intercourse to delay ovulation. Preventing the eggs from being released temporarily, it thus prevents fertilization. 

Barrier methods

This method prevents sperm from entering the woman. They also help prevent STIs and include internal condoms and condoms. 

Permanent contraception

This is an irreversible form of contraception. It includes vasectomy and total ligation. 

Fertility contraception

This is natural control that requires observation of fertility signs to prevent fertilization. 

Learn more about birth control

There are different reasons for learning about the topic of birth control. You can learn them in preparation for an exam for your course or for writing an academic paper. There have been heated arguments about birth control pills. Some people argue they are safe, while others give contrary opinions. This is an excellent topic when writing an essay on the use and effects of contraceptives. Reading paper samples about birth control will help you to understand more what might be the reason for women taking hormonal contraception, not only for ethical reasons but also due to health issues. In the end, you can even write a research paper on this topic and discover the birth control question more thoroughly.

Scientific research on birth control pills

Research on Birth Control Pills

A lot of scientific research on birth control pills has been done. One of them was done by a team of researchers from the University of Ottawa. The report published in July 2020 was titled “The Brain on Birth Control.” It involved women who began taking hormonal contraception at puberty and later in life. The aim was to investigate the effects of hormonal birth control on the brain. 

Another research on the effects of hormonal pills on the brain was done. It was published in October 2020 by the National Library of Medicine. The researchers investigated their effects on current users compared to age and health status. 

Birth control pills research findings 

The research found that there was a significant difference in brain function and structure among hormonal contraceptive users and non-users. They further found that women who began using hormonal contraceptives at puberty had a suppressed reaction to stress. Their brain functions during working memory recorded an increased activation in the prefrontal cortex. This negatively arouses stimuli such as car accidents and gun images. 

The researchers concluded that the use of hormonal contraception has a direct relationship to a significant change in brain structure and functions. The main effect is on the emotional and memory brain regions, which change the user’s reaction to stress. This was due to the suppression of cognitive processing areas of the brain. These included the cingulate gyrus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. 

Why is this research important?

Research on the use and effects of hormonal pills is important to women. It provides them with awareness of potential dangers and the best solutions. It could explain why some women who use pills develop mood-related disorders. Some women have displayed signs of depression after prolonged use of pills. The research will provide ideas to physicians on possible causes when patients come to them with these symptoms. 

Are birth control pills safe for the brain?

There are contradicting reports on the safety of hormonal birth pills. Some researchers say they are safe for most women. However, they note that hormonal pills cause complications in a small number of women. They can range from heart attacks, blood clots, stroke, blood pressure, and DVT. 

Other reports say the pills are not safe for women over 40 years. Women over 40 years old who use the pills for more than three years may develop complications. These include glaucoma, cervical cancer, and blindness. The levels of risk increase with use, with women using the pills over five years, doubling the risk.

Which contraceptives are better to use?

Considering the risks and benefits, researchers have done further investigations to establish which contraceptives are better to use. Some researchers say the best contraceptives to use depend on individual users. They advise the best way is to seek advice from a health professional before they start to use it. If a user wants to prevent pregnancy and be safe from STIs, the best method to use is a barrier. Contraceptives that are more than 99% effective are better than those that are less than 95% effective. 


Millions of women use hormonal birth control pills daily. They prevent pregnancy by either stopping ovulation or reducing it. They also thicken the mucus in the cervix to make it harder for sperm to swim. Researchers have studied to establish whether they have negative effects on the brain. They have concluded that the pills significantly change brain structure and function. Users should seek medical advice before deciding on the best contraception to use.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!