Oral contraceptives just celebrated their 60th anniversary and are used by 150 million women worldwide. First reports that the use of combined oral contraceptives may result in altered mood date back to the 1960s. Yet, the neurobiological correlates of these side effects remain yet to be uncovered. Cognitive effects of oral contraceptives have only been investigated by a handful of studies and came up with inconsistent results due to small sample sizes and a lack of control for the contraceptive formulation used. While most combined oral contraceptives contain the same estrogen (ethinylestradiol), various different progestins are on the market. Some of these progestins act as androgen receptor agonists (androgenic progestins), while others act as androgen receptor antagonists (anti-androgenic progestins). Accordingly, these progestins might elicit different effects in those emotional and cognitive functions, which are influenced by testosterone. Thus, well-powered neuroimaging studies differentiating different contraceptive formulations are needed to understand the neurobiological underpinnings of contraceptive effects on emotion and cognition. Comparing the effects of androgenic and anti-androgenic contraceptives can also help to disentangle those effects that result from the estrogenic actions of contraceptives and those effects that result from the progestin component. In that respect, some light may also be shed by investigating the effects of selective progesterone receptor antagonists on the brain, as these likely oppose the progestagenic effects of hormonal contraceptives. In this symposium, we present current data from various labs involved in contraceptive research aiming to disentangle the various effects of different contraceptive components on the brain.

Zeitfenster der Veranstaltung (1)

Hormones and emotions

Chair(s): Belinda Pletzer (Salzburg, Austria), Ramune Griksiene (Vilnius, Lithuania)

Presenter(s): Erika Comasco (Uppsala, Sweden), Ann-Christin Kimmig (Tübingen), Ingrida Zelionkaite (Vilnius, Lithuania), Isabel Noachtar (Salzburg, Austria)