Hormonal Contraception = Decreased Perseverance

It has long been known that hormonal contraception alters women’s brains, moods, and bodies in ways that are still being discovered. Now, a team of researchers from Texas Christian University are seeking to uncover the impact of hormonal contraception on one very specific brain function—perseverance. The authors open by highlighting the adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This adage, they say, “appropriately highlights the incredible power of perseverance in achieving success.” But given what the researchers know about hormonal contraception (HC) and its impact on the brain, they hypothesize “that women taking HCs (when compared to naturally-cycling women) would exhibit diminished perseverance on both simple and challenging cognitive tasks.” And they further hypothesize that through this mediating influence of diminished perseverance, these women would perform at a lesser level than their naturally-cycling peers at these cognitive tasks. The researchers open by detailing what is already known of HC’s impact on the body. It is, as they say, associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, but also with heightened risk of thrombotic stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and breast cancer. And although “less frequently discussed,” research also indicates that HC use may have an impact on women’s brain structure and function. “For example,” the authors continue, “compared to naturally-cycling women, women using HCs exhibit decreased resting state functional connectivity in the brain’s executive control network . . . which plays an important role in self-regulatory behaviors such as attention, learning, and memory.” Other research has suggested “that HC use is associated with higher likelihood of academic performance problems in a sample of young female college students.” To test their hypothesis related to HC use and female cognitive perseverance, the researchers recruit a sample of 149 young
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