Oral contraceptives may alter the detection of emotions in facial expressions

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Nov;24(11):1855-9. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.08.015. Epub 2014 Sep 1.


A possible effect of oral contraceptives on emotion recognition was observed in the context of a clinical trial with a corticosteroid. Users of oral contraceptives detected significantly fewer facial expressions of sadness, anger and disgust than non-users. This was true for trial participants overall as well as for those randomized to placebo. Although it is uncertain whether this is an effect of oral contraceptives or a pre-existing difference, future studies on the effect of interventions should control for the effects of oral contraceptives on emotional and cognitive outcomes.

Keywords: Emotion recognition; Estrogen; Oral contraceptives; Progesterone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Contraceptives, Oral / pharmacology*
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Fludrocortisone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Fludrocortisone