Elevated love hormone levels and higher satisfaction with life in young oral contraceptive users

Elevated love hormone levels and higher satisfaction with life in young oral contraceptive users

Women who take birth control pills have a much higher level of oxytocin in their blood - also called the love hormone - compared to women who do not use birth control pills. It shows why birth control pills affect emotional life.

Birth control pills are an effective and safe form of birth control, which is also associated with a number of side effects, including mood changes. Research now shows that women who take birth control pills have a consistently higher level of the hormone oxytocin in the blood than women who do not take birth control pills.

“Oxytocin is a hormone found naturally in the body. And separation plays a crucial role when people bond with each other, ”says the senior author of the study.

Can one really get too much of a love hormone?

“The constantly elevated level may mean that oxytocin is not secreted in the same dynamic way as at a lower level. And it is precisely the dynamics that are important to our emotional lives. Thus, it may explain why feelings such as closeness, attachment and love seem to be afflicted in some women who use birth control pills, ”the author explains.

The researchers collected and analyzed blood samples from young women in the United States. In addition, the participants had answered a variety of questions about, among other things, mental well-being. A total of 185 women could be included in the study and the results have just been published in Scientific Reports.

“Almost all women in Denmark have used birth control pills at some point in their lives. Our study presents, for the first time, a mechanism that may explain why some women experience altered mood. Since oxytocin is important for, for example, attachment to the partner, one can imagine that the constantly elevated level is important - not only for the woman herself, but also in the broader sense of the relationship, ”says the researcher.

The study opens up that there may be changes in the behavior of women who would otherwise not experience more traditional side effects.

"Man is a super social animal, we are able to put ourselves in the place of others, show empathy, we fear loneliness and seek community - all driven by the brain's release of oxytocin. Even very small changes in brain oxytocin release will affect the way we process emotions and thus how we interact with each other. Our study can actually help explain why some women on birth control pills experience a diminished sense of closeness, for example ”

The senior author emphasizes that, with the new knowledge, they can now begin to examine the risk profile for different types of birth control pills, and in the longer term one can predict who is at risk of developing depression.