Birth Control Pills May Affect Recognition Of Complex Emotions


With the new technology in today’s world, the health industry is much more different than it used to be. The treatments are better and many of the past diseases have been controlled today. In fact, there are also new ways to tackle the previous challenges and conditions.

For example, birth control was previously a complicated procedure. There was not much research on the matter and effective form of preventing pregnancy was not yet made. Now, there are numerous types of birth control methods women can opt for.

The most prevalent one is using birth control pills. Almost all sexually active females take their daily pill. Although these medicines have a 99.9% success rate, there are also some drawbacks to it. Just like all other drugs, birth control pills also have side effects.

The most common side effects include headache, vomiting, nausea, and even psychological effects like depression and anxiety. In addition, recent research shows yet another disadvantage of using birth control pills.

A new study looks at how taking birth control pills can lead to impaired social judgment. More specifically, women on birth control pills face difficulty in recognizing complex emotional expressions.

The lead author of the study is Alexander Lischke, a researcher in the Department of Physiological and Clinical Psychology/Psychotherapy at the University of Greifswald in Germany.

Read the study here. 

How Was the Study Conducted?

The main motive for conducting this study was the little research on birth control pills. Even though more than a hundred million women worldwide use these pills, the level of research is still not enough. However, there have been hints that they may affect a woman’s ability to not figure out another person’s emotional expressions.

So, for the purpose of further investigation, Lischke and colleagues asked two groups of women to participate in a task comprising of emotion recognition. The first group consisted of 42 women who were healthy and took their birth control pills. The second, on the other hand, had 53 women who did not take oral contraceptives.

The study’s lead author explains how pills affect women’s emotion recognition abilities in the words:

“If oral contraceptives caused dramatic impairments in women’s emotion recognition, we would have probably noticed this in our everyday interactions with our partners.”

Furthermore, he added:

“We assumed that these impairments would be very subtle, indicating that we had to test women’s emotion recognition with a task that was sensitive enough to detect such impairments. We, thus, used a very challenging emotion recognition task that required the recognition of complex emotional expressions from the eye region of faces.”

Some of the examples of complex emotions are pride and contempt. These are much more complex in comparison with anger or happiness.

What Was the Conclusion?

After the observation, the researchers noted that both groups of women recognized simpler emotions easily but when it came to complex emotions, the women on the pill were not able to identify them. In fact, they were 10% less likely to recognize complex emotions.

Factors such as whether the facial expressions were negative or positive and the menstrual cycle did not affect these results.

According to the researchers, this phenomena may be due to cyclic variations of progesterone and estrogen. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings and know more about how to tackle this issue in women.


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Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Literature graduate with expertise in Creative Writing. Her writing interests are mental health, ethics, and news reporting. You will find her work associated with relevant research and references that shows her passion for delivering authentic information to readers.


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