Do oral contraceptives act as mood stabilizers? Evidence of positive affect stabilization

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2007;10(5):225-34. doi: 10.1007/s00737-007-0197-5. Epub 2007 Aug 24.


Previous research has suggested that oral contraceptives (OCs) may provide a stabilizing effect on affect. The present study examined whether OC users and nonusers differ in their affect reactivity in response to four laboratory mood induction procedures. A sample of 107 undergraduate students (40 OC users, 36 nonusers, and 31 men) completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) before and after completing a series of four mood-induction procedures (i.e., positive affect, jealousy, social ostracism, and parental feelings affect inductions). OC users experienced a blunted positive affect response to the tasks when compared with nonusers and men. Women who used OCs for less than two years showed the lowest positive affect reactivity. The groups did not differ in terms of negative affect reactivity. The results suggest that hormonal contraceptives may reduce the degree of positive affect change that women experience in response to environmental events. Possible mechanisms for an OC-induced positive affect stabilization effect are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / drug effects
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Contraceptives, Oral / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Students / psychology


  • Contraceptives, Oral