Elevated plasma oxytocin levels and higher satisfaction with life in young oral contraceptive users

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  • Benjamin Garforth
  • ,
  • Helle Degnbol
  • ,
  • Elizabeth T. Terris, Claremont Graduate University
  • ,
  • Paul J. Zak, Claremont Graduate University
  • ,
  • Michael Winterdahl

Oral contraception (OC) is used by approximately fifty-five million women in the USA alone and is listed as an essential medicine by the World Health Organisation. Altered mood is a common reason for OC cessation. Here we investigate the effects of OC on hormones that are linked to mood. We obtained blood samples from 185 young women (average age 21.2) in two cohorts and tested the effects of OC on plasma levels of oxytocin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. We related plasma hormone levels with self-reported measures of mood, well-being and depression. OC-users in both cohorts showed elevated basal oxytocin, lower ACTH, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone compared with non-OC users. Satisfaction With Life Score (SWLS) was higher in OC -users compared to non-OC users, with no differences in the Beck Depression Score (BDI) and Positive And Negative Affect Schedule (PANES). In conclusion, our data show alterations in hormone levels and SWLS in response to OC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8208
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2020

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