New research from the Journal of Women's Health suggests a link between the contraceptive pill and women's brain power in later life.Scientists say women who use hormonal contraceptives, even for a short period in their twenties and thirties, may improve their brain power in middle-age and beyond.
But not only could it have positive effects on your next Trivia outing, it may also halt the declining cognitive function typical in disease like Alzheimer's.
While previous research has shown that hormone therapy can have a protective effect against the onset of dementia in women, a review did not establish a link between the oestrogen or combined oestrogen and prostegin therapy and overall brain function.
In the latest study, researchers performed cognitive performance tests on women with an average age of 52.4 years, who were enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention. Researchers recorded the women's hormonal contraceptive use history and duration of use and then categorised the women as 'ever users' and 'never users'.
The results showed for the first time that hormonal contraceptive use could be linked to significantly better performance in certain brain functions - such as visuo-spatial ability and speed and flexibility.
The study found that those who took the Pill for only five years still performed better than those who had never taken it. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health researchers also discovered that these benefits increased the longer a woman was on the Pill.
Study author Kelly Egan said: 'Our study examined the cognitive effects associated with hormonal contraceptive use in women with and without a history of parental Alzheimer’s Disease.
'Our analysis indicated that hormonal contraceptive use may have a protective cognitive effect even years after use is discontinued. This is especially true in subjects with a longer duration of use.'These data provide preliminary evidence that hormonal contraceptive use may influence cognitive outcomes, even years after use is discontinued.'