Hormonal contraception can alter memory

By : Susan Ray | Published : Monday September 12, 2011 | Posted in : Women's Health | Comments
hormonal contraceptive pill

Hormonal contraceptives are one of the most tried and a tested medication in the world, yet not much is known about the effect of it on the brain. A recent UC Irvine report suggests that taking hormonal contraception containing oestrogen can alter memory.

Researchers asked two groups or women to look at the same image. The one group were taking oral birth control pills and the other weren’t. The image was that of a mother and child standing next to a crashed vehicle and was accompanied by varying commentary. A week after the viewing, the women were contacted and asked to rehash what they had seen.

The women, who were using contraception at the time, seemed to recall the main steps involved in the event better, while the other group remembered the smaller details in the image.

Commenting on the US based research, Shawn Nielsen, A UCI graduate researcher, said that it was important to note that hormonal contraceptives such as the pill didn’t damage memory; it just changed what women remembered.

Traditionally women are believed to generate memory from the left hemisphere of the brain, but the pill could cause a shift to the right hemisphere. One theory is that hormonal contraception could possibly alter where memories are generated, so that women are better at remembering the gist of a story, similar to men.

Although further research is required, it’s believed that the results can help shed more light on why women tend to be more likely to experience post-traumatic stress syndrome than men and how the hormones oestrogen and progestogen are involved.

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