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Mind the Gap: Hormonal Contraceptives and Brain Health
Do hormonal contraceptives influence brain health in women+?
Hormonal contraceptives (HC) are used by 850M girls, women and people with uteri—all reflected in the term women+—, and 16% of people (5-49y) in Canada. In addition to being contraceptives, HCs are prescribed off-label to treat many other conditions. Few studies have examined effects of these hormones on the brain, however recent work suggests they can increase risk for mood disorders during adolescence and alter brain activation patterns. Yet, how HC use may influence long-term brain health is not known.
Understanding brain health, especially through an equity lens, is critical. Women+ experience different brain health symptoms as a result of their unique experience of stress, which is impacted by age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Stress outcomes affect disease risk, which is also influenced by HCs. Collaborations between academics and research users is vital to understand the unique ways that women+’s lives impact their brain health. This conference will explore how HCs influence women+’s brain health by bringing together researchers, clinicians, community partners, trainees, and policymakers to exchange knowledge and identify new research priorities that fill knowledge gaps and address patient experiences.
In this virtual conference series, we will be hosting bi-weekly events including two keynote talks, four symposia, trainee mentor sessions, guest workshops and a roundtable discussion where attendees will co-create create a blueprint for future research on hormonal contraceptives. You are invited to join all of these gatherings, or pick and choose which ones you want to attend.
This virtual conference series will dig into unique aspects of hormonal contraceptives and the examined effects of these hormones on the brain. It will engage researchers, clinicians, community partners, trainees, and policymakers to share research and develop strategies to spotlight the need for consideration of female-specific factors to improve women+'s brain health. The overall objective of this conference is to bring attention to the brain health issues that women+ face and encourage the medical, scientific and commercial communities to address them.