New research into oral contraceptives and emotional recognition has been published which finds that oral contraceptives can impair complex emotion recognition in healthy women.
The research was undertaken by a team from University of Rostock, University Medicine Rostock, University Medicine Greifswald, University of Greifswald and University of Potsdam in Germany and was published in Frontiers in Neuroscience. The researchers explained that despite the widespread use of oral contraceptives, remarkably little is known about the effects of oral contraceptives on emotion, cognition, and behaviour. However, they state that coincidental findings suggest that oral contraceptives impair the ability to recognise others’ emotional expressions, which may have serious consequences in interpersonal contexts.
To investigate the effects of oral contraceptives on emotion recognition they tested whether women who were using oral contraceptives would be less accurate in the recognition of complex emotional expressions than women who were not using oral contraceptives. They also explored whether these differences in emotion recognition would depend on women’s menstrual cycle phase.
They concluded that women with oral contraceptive use were less accurate in the recognition of complex expressions than women without oral contraceptive use, in particular during the processing of expressions that were difficult to recognise. These differences in emotion recognition did not depend on the women’s menstrual cycle phase. They said that their findings suggest that oral contraceptives impair women’s emotion recognition, which should be taken into account when informing women about the side-effects of oral contraceptive use.