A twin study of the psychiatric side effects of oral contraceptives

Kenneth S. Kendler, Nicholas G. Martin, Andrew C. Heath, David Handelsman, Lindon J. Eaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Oral contraceptive (ORC)-related depression and irritability are among the most commonly reported drug-induced psychiatric symptoms. To investigate the etiological role of genetic factors in ORC-related symptoms, we studied questionnaire responses in 715 monozygotic and 416 dizygotic volunteer twin pairs concordant for ORC usage. Biometrical genetic analysis indicated that the liability to ORC-related depression was clearly influenced by genetic but not familial-environmental factors. Similar, but less definitive, results were found for ORC-related irritability. Multivariate genetic analysis indicated that both the genetic and the individual-specific environmental factors that influenced the liability to ORC-related depression and irritability were largely distinct from those that influence baseline levels of psychiatric symptoms. Genes play an important etiological role in ORC-related psychiatric side effects. The genes that influence liability to these side effects appear to differ from those that are etiologically important in baseline psychiatric symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1988


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