Forget alcohol — birth control pills could lower your inhibitions.
New research out of Canada suggests daily contraceptives could thin regions of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, analyzes the effects of oral contraceptives — which are taken by nearly two-thirds of American women 15 to 49 years old, according to 2018 data — on the brain.
Specifically, the researchers from Montreal investigated the role of naturally and synthetically produced hormones on the way fear is processed.
“When prescribed [combined oral contraceptives], girls and women are informed of various physical side effects, for example that the hormones they will be taking will abolish their menstrual cycle and prevent ovulation,” study author Alexandra Brouillard, a researcher at Université du Québec à Montréal, said in a statement.
Yet, the researchers claim, the pill’s effects on the brain’s development have not been thoroughly investigated.
They enlisted 139 women, ages 23 to 35, who were using oral contraceptives at the time, who had stopped taking the pill, or who had never used hormonal birth control, as well as 41 men.
Compared to the men, the women on birth control had “a thinner ventromedial prefrontal cortex,” which is responsible for “emotion regulation, such as decreasing fear signals” in safe situations, said Brouillard.
The thinning could mean an impairment of emotional regulation, she noted.
However, it appears the thinning could be reversed once consumption of the pill stops since the former birth control users did not demonstrate the same results.
Further research is needed to confirm the findings and answer unknowns, the study authors said.
“The objective of our work is not to counter the use of [combined oral contraceptives], but it is important to be aware that the pill can have an effect on the brain,” said Brouillard.
“Our aim is to increase scientific interest in women’s health and raise awareness about early prescription of COCs and brain development, a highly unknown topic.”
Past research has suggested a heightened risk of depression for women who began taking contraception as a teenager.
Some have even claimed their partner preferences and attraction changed once they stopped taking the pill.
Podcaster Elisha Covey, 37, previously said her taste in men differed greatly between taking the pill and going off it.
“We’re told there is a chance of nausea, weight gain, mood changes — but all of those ‘seem’ manageable. But we aren’t told that it affects your feelings and desires,” she told The Post last year.