Adolescent brains are still developing and growing, so it is important to understand how changes in hormone levels may affect brain development and function. Hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, releases synthetic versions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone into the body. These synthetic hormones can act differently in the brain than the body’s natural hormones, and may have both short- and long-term effects on the developing brain.
Some research has suggested that taking birth control pills during adolescence may alter brain structure and function. One study found that adolescent girls who took birth control pills had reduced grey matter volume in the brain compared to those who did not take birth control pills. Grey matter is important for processing information and making decisions, so this finding suggests that birth control pills may have an impact on cognitive function.
Other research has found that taking birth control pills during adolescence may also increase the risk of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. One study found that girls who took birth control pills were more likely to experience symptoms of depression than those who did not take birth control pills. Another study found that birth control pills may also be associated with an increased risk of anxiety disorders.
So, while more research is needed to fully understand the effects of hormonal birth control on the adolescent brain, some studies have suggested that taking birth control pills during this critical period of brain development may have short- and long-term impacts on cognitive function and mental health. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these potential risks when considering taking hormonal contraceptives during adolescence.
Most hormonal contraceptives work by releasing synthetic versions of the hormones progestin and estrogen into a woman’s body. These hormones prevent ovulation and thickening of the uterine lining, which makes it difficult for sperm to reach the egg and fertilize it.
The use of hormonal contraceptives is common among adolescents. In fact, according to a 2012 report from the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 60 percent of sexually active teenage girls in the United States use some form of birth control.
The great majority of these teenage girls are using hormonal contraceptives.
There is growing evidence that the synthetic hormones in these contraceptives can have an impact on the adolescent brain.
A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience found that teenage girls who used hormonal contraceptives had changes in brain structure compared to those who did not use them.
The changes were seen in the areas of the brain that control emotion and behavior.
The girls who used hormonal contraceptives were more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Another study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found that teenage girls who used hormonal contraceptives were more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drinking and smoking.
The study found that the effects of hormonal contraceptives on the adolescent brain were similar to the effects of other drugs, such as alcohol and marijuana.
There is still much we don’t know about the long-term effects of hormonal contraceptives on the adolescent brain.
But the emerging evidence suggests that these drugs may have an impact on the developing brain and should be used with caution in teenage girls.