I read once that women who take birth control pills experience decreases in gray matter.

The researchers found that certain regions of the cortex were thinner in women who took birth control pills than in women who were not on the pill.

Birth Control Pill Linked To Thinner Cortex Areas

Can anyone back this up?


1 Answer 1


Oral Contraceptives actually increases gray matter.

According to 50 years of hormonal contraception—time to find out, what it does to our brain (Belinda A. Pletzer and Hubert H. Kerschbaum), areas of the brain displayed larger volumes of gray matter1.

1Effects of hormonal contraceptives on brain structure

Recent results demonstrated that regional gray matter volumes in the prefrontal cortex, as well as the anterior cingulate gyrus are larger in mixed samples of androgenic and anti-androgenic OC users compared to non-users (Pletzer et al., 2010; DeBondt et al., 2013). These regions are already larger in women compared to men (e.g., Good et al., 2001; Pletzer et al., 2010). However, regional gray matter volumes of OC-users were also larger in the cerebellum, hippocampi, parahippocampal and fusiform gyri (Pletzer et al., 2010; DeBondt et al., 2013). Those regions are on the average larger in men compared to women (e.g., Good et al., 2001; Pletzer et al., 2010). Results from rodent hippocampi suggest that these volume increases may be attributed to an increase in synaptic spine density mediated by estrogen receptors (e.g., Murphy et al., 1998; McEwen, 2002; Smith et al., 2009), but an increase in astrocyte volume in response to estradiol has also been suggested (e.g., Spencer et al., 2008).
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