September 27, 2011
The side effects and risks of taking hormonal birth control are often argued and studied. From causing blood clots to potentially increasing the risk of cancer after prolonged use, the list is lengthy. One aspect that is less studied is birth control's effect on memory.
A medical journal, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, released a study in a September issue that evaluated the emotional memory of women on hormonal birth control. The study involved two groups of women, one of women who were on hormonal birth control and one of women who were not. Both groups were told an emotional story (rather than just facts, which has been studied before) and later asked to recall the story. The women on hormonal contraceptives were able to recall the central information and "gist" of the story, while women who were not on birth control could recall more details and less of the "gist."
What does this mean? Well no one is quite sure. What we do know, according to Dr. Pauline Maki of the University of Illinois at Chicago, is that estrogen plays a role in memory. Previous studies have shown that women have a better memory than men, and this study furthers the notion that estrogen impacts what and how well we remember information and feelings.
More to come, I guess!