Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Christina Wagner

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin Moore

Third Advisor

Dr. Bridget Gourley


Women’s bodies are the subject of decision-making and control, yet women’s lives are dismally ignored. The field of women’s health is highly understudied, and the demand for that adequate research must be granted to the women’s health field. This interdisciplinary research study investigated stress response differences between hormonal birth control users and non-users. Hormonal birth control (HBC) is one of the greatest technologies afforded to women and further research is necessary to ensure women are guaranteed bodily autonomy and women’s health education. Due to altered hormonal signaling, HBC has been linked to behavioral and decision making differences in women. Building off this research, I analyzed the effects of HBC on chronic stress and the HPA axis cortisol response. The data indicates that HBC may be a potential contributor to both increased chronic stress levels and HPA axis blunting in women. This research provides a framework for further research and a call to action for increased women’s, sexual and reproductive health education to empower women when making decisions regarding their bodies.