The effects of ethinylestradiol and progestins ("the pill") on cognitive function in pre-menopausal women

Gogos,A, Wu,YC, Williams,AS and Byrne,LK 2014, The effects of ethinylestradiol and progestins ("the pill") on cognitive function in pre-menopausal women, Neurochemical research, vol. 39, no. 12, pp. 2288-2300, doi: 10.1007/s11064-014-1444-6.

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Title The effects of ethinylestradiol and progestins ("the pill") on cognitive function in pre-menopausal women
Author(s) Gogos,A
Byrne,LKORCID iD for Byrne,LK
Journal name Neurochemical research
Volume number 39
Issue number 12
Start page 2288
End page 2300
Publisher Springer
Place of publication New York, NY
Publication date 2014-12
ISSN 1573-6903
Keyword(s) Cognition
Oral contraceptive (OC)
Sex hormones
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Neurosciences & Neurology
Summary Oral contraceptives (OCs), often referred to as "the pill", are the most commonly employed form of reversible contraception. OCs are comprised of combined synthetic estrogen and progestin, which work to suppress ovulation and subsequently protect against pregnancy. To date, almost 200 million women have taken various formulations of OC, making it one of the most widely consumed classes of medication in the world. While a substantial body of literature has been dedicated to understanding the physical effects of OCs, much less is known about the long term consequences of OC use on brain anatomy and the associated cognitive effects. Accumulating evidence suggests that sex hormones may significantly affect human cognition. This phenomenon has been commonly studied in older populations, such as in post-menopausal women, while research in healthy, pre-menopausal women remains limited. The current review focused on the effects of OCs on human cognition, with the majority of studies comparing pre-menopausal OC users to naturally cycling women. Human neuroimaging data and animal studies are also described herein. Taken together, the published findings on OC use and human cognition are varied. Of those that do report positive results, OC users appear to have improved verbal memory, associative learning and spatial attention. We recommend future research to employ blinding procedures and randomised designs. Further, more detailed information pertaining to the specific generation and phasic type of OCs, as well as menstrual cycle phase of the OC non-users should be considered to help unmask the potential impact of OC use on human cognition.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s11064-014-1444-6
Field of Research 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920507 Women's Health
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, Springer
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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