Estrogen ﬂuctuations, oral contraceptives and borderline personality
Results from three studies suggest ﬂuctuation in estrogen level may inﬂuence the expression of borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptoms. In the ﬁrst study, 226 women were administered the Personality Assessment inventory, borderline scales (PAI-BOR; L.C. Morey, The Personality Assessment Inventory, Professional Manual, 1991) and a questionnaire that assessed time in menstrual cycle and use of oral contraceptives, that is synthetic estrogens. BPD symptoms were most common in women using oral contraceptives and during times in the menstrual cycle when estrogen level is rising. In Study 2, 52 women were measured four times across one menstrual cycle and provided salivary samples at each test session. The samples were assayed and estrogen levels were obtained. The principle ﬁnding was that variation in estrogen levels predicted the presence of BPD symptoms (r=0.4, p0.01). This relationship remained signiﬁcant when a general increase in negative affect was statistically controlled. Study 3 employed a pre–post Oral Contraceptive (OC) design with a control group. It was found that for women with high pre-existing levels of BPD, symptoms became signiﬁcantly worse after starting pill use (F (3,42)=4.7; p0.01). Research ﬁndings that link the serotonin system and estrogen are reviewed and theoretical and practical implications are discussed.