(STUDY FINDS) -- CHICAGO — It’s estimated that nearly six million women used a form of oral contraception between 2015-2017 in the United States. But there may be bad news for birth control users. A disconcerting new study, that only recently became possible due to advancements in MRI technology, finds that birth control pills may actually impact the size or even shrink a portion of women’s brains.
According to the study, women who take birth control pills have significantly smaller hypothalamus volume. The hypothalamus is among the most important areas of the brain, and has a hand in nearly everything one does on a day-to-day basis. This includes appetite, sex drive, overall mood, body temperature, sleep patterns, and heart rate. Situated at the base of the brain above the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus also produces essential hormones.
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According to the research team, this is the first time the structural effects of sex hormones and birth control pills on the hypothalamus have been investigated. Mostly due to a lack of valid methods to quantitatively analyze MRI exams, that is, up until now.