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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2006 Jan;9(1):1-14. Epub 2005 Oct 5.

Oral contraceptives and mood in women with and without premenstrual dysphoria: a theoretical model.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Despite numerous studies on the topic, there is no consensus to date on the effects of oral contraceptives on mood or the mechanism(s) by which they exert these effects. This review article presents a theoretical model to explain the way in which oral contraceptives may affect mood. Specifically, it is argued that progestins exert differential effects on endogenous levels of neurosteroids, thereby altering mood. After providing an overview of the effects of estrogen, progesterone, and progesterone's metabolites on cortical excitability and the role of neurosteroids in depression and premenstrual dysphoria, this article reviews the research that has been conducted on the relationship between oral contraceptives and neurosteroids. Finally, suggestions for future research are made with the dual aim of improving existing studies on the relationship between oral contraceptives and mood and further investigating the possibility that fluctuations in neurosteroid levels are responsible for the effects of oral contraceptives on mood.

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