Oral Contraceptive Use Linked to Smaller Hypothalamus

Oral Contraceptive Use Linked to Smaller Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus, located at the base of the brain, is involved in regulating body temperature, sleep, thirst and hunger. Michael Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., used MRI to assess the size of the hypothalamus in 21 women taking oral contraceptives (“The Pill”) and in 29 nonusers. Women taking oral contraceptives were found to have significantly smaller hypothalamuses compared with nonusers.

Dr. Lipton presented these finding at the 2019 annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, and the full study was published online on April 21, in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE. There was no definitive evidence that change in hypothalamus size affects normal brain functioning or women’s health in general.

Dr. Lipton is professor of radiology and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, associate professor in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, and associate director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center, and medical director of MRI Services for Montefiore.

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