Women on the ‘pill’ May Face Troubles with Emotions- Study Reveals


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More than 60 percent of the women between the ages of 15 to 44 are using a type of contraception. While these tablets have been associated with a lot of benefits, they also have their own range of side effects. These side effects usually depend on the type of pill you are using and the hormones it contains.

Most common side effects of contraceptive pills include headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, and nausea.

But have you ever wondered what the psychological effects of using these pills are? Studies have suggested a possible link between taking a contraceptive pill and suffering from depression and mood swings.

A new research study has added another adverse side effect to this list: a lack of social judgment. As per this study, women who consume birth control pills have a reduced capacity to identify the complex emotional expressions such as contempt and pride.

What is the Ratio?

The senior researcher of this study has explained the motivation of this study saying that over 100 million women across the world are using these pills. However, their knowledge about their side effects on the cognition, behavior, and emotions, is remarkably low.

However, coincidental findings have suggested that using oral contraceptives impair the capacity of recognizing emotional expressions of other people. This can affect the way women interact with other people and maintain intimate relationships.

In order to determine these side effects, the scientists formed two different groups of women who were engaged in a certain emotion-recognition task. The first group has 42 healthy women who were using oral contraceptives.

The other group consisted of 53 women who were not on the pill.

If the oral contraceptives were to cause impairments in the ability of the women to recognize emotions, it would be noticed by the researchers in their everyday interactions with their partners.

The researchers assumed these impairments to be subtle indicating that they had to test the emotion recognition in women using a test with sensitivity high enough to detect them. Hence, they used an extremely challenging emotion recognition a task that recognized them using different eye regions of the faces.

Such emotional expressions included pride and contempt which are generally more complex as compared to the simpler emotions like happiness and fear.

While both the groups did well in recognizing easy expressions, the one on oral contraceptives found it difficult to identify the difficult expressions.

Specifically speaking, women who were using the pill were found to be 10 percent less accurate in emotion recognition as compared to those who did not take the pill.

The findings were not dependent on the menstrual cycle phase of the women. They were also not related to whether their facial expressions were negative or positive.

The researchers commented on the findings saying, the cyclic variations of progesterone and estrogen levels are particularly known to affect emotion recognition in women. They also affect the connections and activity in the relevant regions of the brain.

Because the oral contraceptives work by decreasing the progesterone and estrogen levels, they may as well carry the capacity to affect the emotion recognition in women. However, the exact mechanism behind the contraceptive-induced changes in the emotion regulation of women does require more elucidation.


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Samantha Issac
Samantha is a graduate of Medicine with masters in Public Health. Most of her writings are in medicinal tools, technology, and treatments. In addition to that, she is a freelance healthcare writer based in the USA.

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