UCI Logo Use of birth control pills are advisable in issues related to family planning, however, what cannot be overlooked are the effects accompanying them. As per a new UC Irvine study women consuming contraceptives such as birth control pills may encounter memory alterations.

Changes in memory seem to take place in a way that their capacity to recall some portions of an emotional incident is enhanced while women who do not use contraceptives appear to remember details.

“What’s most exciting about this study is that it shows the use of hormonal contraception alters memory. There are only a handful of studies examining the cognitive effects of the pill, and more than 100 million women use it worldwide,” commented UCI graduate researcher Shawn Nielsen.

Surprisingly, she added that it is not a negative effect. It is just a modification in the type of information women retain. These influences sound sensible as contraceptives are known to repress sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone to prohibit pregnancy. Initial studies have linked these hormones to good left brain memory by Cahill’s research group, an associate of Nielsen. Larry Cahill has already put forth an association between sex and memory. Considering that women using oral birth control tablets sustained varied parts of an episode suggest that estrogen could be contributing in how women recall emotional scenarios.

As a part of the study, sets of women having these pills and those going through their normal cycles were exposed to pictures of a mother, her son and a car accident. The audio of the clipping was different for both the groups. Some were told the car hit the boy and injured him badly while some were told the car had hit a curb. After a span of 1 week, the participants were given a surprise test on their remembrance of the scene. Women in the contraceptive group could recall the major sequences of the disturbing event. Women in the control group remembered even more precisely.

The findings could pave the path to know why women are known to experience PTSD more than men. The latter presumably use the right-hemisphere of the brain for memory encryption. They seem to have the main idea of the incident than detailed information. Women taking contraceptives have less proportion of hormones and therefore, seemingly develop memory like men.

The team has plans to gauge if hormones have an effect on retaining details.