Objectives/Hypothesis: The objective was to extend our knowledge of the effect of birth control pills on voice quality in women based on various acoustic measures.
Study Design: A longitudinal comparative study of 14 healthy young women over a 36- to 45-day period.
Methods: Voices of seven women who used birth control pills and seven women who did not were recorded repeatedly approximately 20 times. Voice samples were analyzed acoustically, using an extended set of frequency perturbation parameters (jitter, relative average perturbation, pitch period perturbation quotient), amplitude perturbation parameters (shimmer, amplitude average perturbation quotient), and noise indices (noise-to-harmonics ratio, voice turbulence index).
Results: Voice quality and stability were found to be better among the women who used birth control pills. Lower values were found for all acoustic measures with the exception of voice turbulence index. Results also provided preliminary indication for vocal changes associated with the days preceding ovulation.
Conclusion: In contrast to the traditional view of oral contraceptives as a risk factor for voice quality, and in keeping with the authors' previous work, the data in the present study showed that not only did oral contraceptives have no adverse effect on voice quality but, in effect, most acoustic measures showed improved voice quality among women who used the birth control pill. The differences in the noise indices between groups may also shed light on the nature of the effect of sex hormones on vocal fold activity. It was suggested that hormonal fluctuations may have more of an effect on vocal fold regulation of vibration than on glottal adduction.