The Birth Control Pill

Birth control pills work by providing your body with a dose of estrogen and progesterone that prevents ovulations. Like everything we put inside our bodies, it’s effect is not specific to the reproductive organs, but rather a generalized effect. It is also worth noting that hormones can work as neurotransmitters, affecting the brain and nervous system directly.

The brain is highly sensitive to these types of steroids, and it has been shown that birth control pills: (1) reduce width in parts of the brain related to decision making and emotional regulation (2) reduce oxytocin levels, which is related to trust, love, and physical touch, and (3) increase the chances for depression and anxiety.

The study of the birth control pill was historically a highly patriarchal event, with women having little access to information on dosage or side effects. In its early days, women were given 10 times the amount of hormones a birth control pill today has! The long-standing impact this may have had on the women is unknown, since longitudinal studies were not followed. Regardless of the obvious benefit there is to women being in control of their reproductive system, these types of solutions have to be better studied, and done so with women as the patients in mind first.

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