Behavioral effects of birth control pills

Developmental estrogen exposures and disruptions to maternal behavior and brain: Effects of ethinyl estradiol, a common positive control

2018 Study Highlights

  • Developmental EE2 exposure increases time spent on maternal self-care.
  • Pups born to EE2-treated females were less likely to initiate nursing on LD14.
  • Exposure to EE2 altered ERα expression in the MPOA both early and late in lactation.
  • Developmental EE2 exposure decreased dopaminergic cells in the VTA on LD2.
  • Effects of EDCs on maternal behavior depend on chemical and period of exposure.


Due of its structural similarity to the endogenous estrogen 17β-estradiol (E2), the synthetic estrogen 17α-ethinyl estradiol (EE2) is widely used to study the effects of estrogenic substances on sensitive organs at multiple stages of development.

Here, we investigated the effects of EE2 on maternal behavior and the maternal brain in females exposed during gestation and the perinatal period.

We assessed several components of maternal behavior including nesting behavior and pup retrieval; characterized the expression of estrogen receptor (ER)α in the medial preoptic area (MPOA), a brain region critical for the display of maternal behavior; and measured expression of tyrosine hydroxylase, a marker for dopaminergic cells, in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a brain region important in maternal motivation.

We found that developmental exposure to EE2 induces subtle effects on several aspects of maternal behavior including time building the nest and time spent engaged in self-care. Developmental exposure to EE2 also altered ERα expression in the central MPOA during both early and late lactation and led to significantly reduced tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity in the VTA.

ur results demonstrate both dose- and postpartum stage-related effects of developmental exposure to EE2 on behavior and brain that manifest later in adulthood, during the maternal period. These findings provide further evidence for effects of exposure to exogenous estrogenic compounds during the critical periods of fetal and perinatal development.

2 thoughts on “Behavioral effects of birth control pills”

  1. I was most likely a DES baby and as a result have many intersex traits. These are both physical and phycological.
    But where I see the effects the most is in my spouses family. In all there were eight children and each child was exposed to DES during their gestation. There were four boys and four girls in the family. Three of the girls had very clear effects of DES exposure. One or two of the boys had very clear issues related to its use. One male child had sexual development issues and phycological issues in addition to that. He never dated or had any interest in developing a personal relationship with anyone.
    In addition he had teratoma germ cell testis, much like myself but not as extensive as me. As for the girls one had a T shaped uterus , another girl has no sexual feeling in addition to sexual development issue. In addition my spouse has abnormal development that could lead to cancer and has to be monitored for such.

    In my own life my body was full of very large mature teratoma. Some of which were any where from 10-17.5 cm in size. With the last surgically removed when I was an adult. In addition I developed testicular/ovarian type stage three cancer. I carried a fetus like teratoma that had limbs, body, eyes and some internal organs. One testis remained an ovotestis and the other testis was sort of normal but really never grew to full adult size. Sort of like a preteen or early puberty teen in size.
    Phycologically speaking I tend to be asexual but for some reason I found love and acceptance in my spouse.( We have been married a very long time.) Other than finding love in her I have no real needs for anyone male or female.
    Not surprisingly I carry very strong transgender feelings but have never transitioned. Of the 26 or so surgeries I’ve had over the years I’ve had about 6-7 that were related to my sexual development issues. Some of the other surgeries were indirectly related to this also.

    Clearly DES and or EDC endocrine disrupter chemicals did have a major effect on my family. I fear the damage is been done to the human population cannot be undone.

    I’m very open about how my body developed sexually and do my best to share what little information I have with everyone.

    1. What a story ! Most of the general public does not realize the terrible effects DES has had for decades on so many lives. Thank you for sharing these lines with our readers Mick, best wishes.

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