Table_1_Event-Related Potentials in Women on the Pill: Neural Correlates of Positive and Erotic Stimulus Processing in Oral Contraceptive Users.docx (661.94 kB)
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Table_1_Event-Related Potentials in Women on the Pill: Neural Correlates of Positive and Erotic Stimulus Processing in Oral Contraceptive Users.docx

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posted on 04.01.2022, 04:34 authored by Norina M. Schmidt, Juergen Hennig, Aisha J. L. Munk

Background/Aims: Exposure toward positive emotional cues with – and without – reproductive significance plays a crucial role in daily life and regarding well-being as well as mental health. While possible adverse effects of oral contraceptive (OC) use on female mental and sexual health are widely discussed, neural processing of positive emotional stimuli has not been systematically investigated in association with OC use. Considering reported effects on mood, well-being and sexual function, and proposed associations with depression, it was hypothesized that OC users showed reduced neural reactivity toward positive and erotic emotional stimuli during early as well as later stages of emotional processing and also rated these stimuli as less pleasant and less arousing compared to naturally cycling (NC) women.

Method: Sixty-two female subjects (29 NC and 33 OC) were assessed at three time points across the natural menstrual cycle and corresponding time points of the OC regimen. Early (early posterior negativity, EPN) and late (late positive potential, LPP) event-related potentials in reaction to positive, erotic and neutral stimuli were collected during an Emotional Picture Stroop Paradigm (EPSP). At each appointment, subjects provided saliva samples for analysis of gonadal steroid concentration. Valence and arousal ratings were collected at the last appointment.

Results: Oral contraceptive users had significantly lower endogenous estradiol and progesterone concentrations compared to NC women. No significant group differences in either subjective stimulus evaluations or neural reactivity toward positive and erotic emotional stimuli were observed. For the OC group, LPP amplitudes in reaction to erotic vs. neutral pictures differed significantly between measurement times across the OC regimen.

Discussion: In this study, no evidence regarding alterations of neural reactivity toward positive and erotic stimuli in OC users compared to NC was found. Possible confounding factors and lines for future research are elaborated and discussed.

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