Solemnity of the Annunciation
4 weeks ago
It turns out that the brain is a veritable sponge for steroid hormones....
Whereas the subtle structural effects of naturally-occurring steroid hormones and sex differences in the brain have been extensively studied, few studies have examined the role of synthetic hormones on changes in the human brain. What happens, then, when the female brain gets a significant and artificial dose of steroid hormone, either progesterone, estrogen or both?...
It appears that the brain, that sensitive organ replete with steroid receptors, reacts to its hormonal milieu with startling structural modifications. ....women using hormonal contraceptives showed larger gray matter volumes in the prefrontal cortex, pre- and postcentral gyri, the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri and temporal regions, when compared to naturally cycling women. The brain works like a neural beehive; the proper coordinated functioning of groups of tasked neurons are important to successfully accomplish a variety of mental tasks -- even the sensory processing and motor coordination needed for something as simple as picking up a hot cup of coffee without scalding oneself. Again, we do not know whether this increased gray matter translates into better or worse performance, but there likely is little good about treating a woman's brain like a spongy accordion.
....a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
-- Humanae Vitae II.17 (emphasis added)