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Jan Brynhildsen - new professor 2021

Jan Brynhildsen.

Jan Brynhildsen , professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, researches contraception. “A fundamental equality issue, and extremely central to women’s opportunities in society.”


1962 Born in Sundsvall, Sweden

1998 Obtained his PhD in obstetrics and gynaecology at Linköping University with his thesis Low back pain in women in relation to different exposures to female sex hormones

2007 Docent in obstetrics and gynaecology at Linköping University

2015 Professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Linköping University

2020 Professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Örebro University

Jan Brynhildsen conducts research chiefly related to contraceptive use with other medical conditions such as obesity, obesity surgery and autoimmune diseases. Upcoming projects concern the benefits and risks of women who have undergone organ or stem cell transplantation.

He considers contraception a fundamental equality issue and stresses that women do not yet have access to effective contraception in much of the world.

“Many older women testify to the enormous progress it was when the hormonal contraceptives arrived in the 1960s. Today, there is a different scepticism in Sweden than in the 1960s and 1970s. Many people demand the natural, but if you are going to spike it, the purpose of the contraceptive is to put nature out of action.

Very serious

Jan Brynhildsen stresses that nothing works for everyone and that all medicines have side effects. But he believes that the benefits of hormonal contraceptives far outweigh the disadvantages and that it is almost always possible to find a method that works for the individual woman.

“Today, many women report poor mental health as a result of pill use, and this is an issue to be taken seriously. Certainly, it is the case that individual women may react negatively, but this is probably due in most cases to other causes. In placebo-controlled studies, we see minimal differences.”

Are there any other myths about the pill?
“That women should gain weight. Some go up, and some go down, but they don’t go up more than others on average. For progestogen injectables, however, there is some evidence about weight gain.”

Reduces the risk of cancer

There are also other benefits of hormonal contraceptives and stopping unwanted pregnancies, according to Jan Brynhildsen.

“For example, pill users have a significantly lower risk of developing cancer. Use of intrauterine device also seems to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, but there are surprisingly few studies on it.”

It was not sure that Jan Brynhildsen would become a gynaecologist when he started studying to be a doctor in the 1980s. He took an early interest in sports medicine, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a national team doctor for the Swedish women’s football team. But he re-took the course and earned his PhD in gynaecology in 1998.

“I’m attracted to the subject because it is quite broad. You can work with everything from hormone issues to tumour diseases, urinary incontinence, and infertility problems. We also have pregnancy and childbirth that are completely different from everything else in medicine.”

Works at USÖ

Jan Brynhildsen grew up and graduated from Örebro, and he moved back to his childhood town in 2014. In recent years he has commuted to Linköping University, where he has held a professorship since 2015. He is now a newly appointed professor at Örebro University, where he works with his research interspersed with clinical work as a consultant physician at USÖ.

Jan Brynhildsen also has an extra interest in medical students. During his last years in Linköping, he was program manager for the medical program.

“I think it is important to be involved in creating an educational environment that gives us in the profession the best colleagues possible in the future.”

Hoping for a breakthrough

From time to time, hormonal contraceptives are discussed in men, or perhaps rather the lack thereof. Jan Brynhildsen hopes that there will soon be a breakthrough on that level. He believes that the main reason a contraceptive pill for men is still missing is economics – and politics.

“Biologically, of course, it’s a little more complex. For a man, there is a link between hormone formation and sexual ability. If you knock out the man’s sperm production, there is a risk that he will lose his erection ability – but it is possible to get around,” says Jan Brynhildsen.

He also points out that it is women who pay the price if a contraceptive does not work.

“That aspect is a bit forgotten. For thousands of years, women have relied on the man’s ability with, to say the least, poor success. Should she again have to rely on the man to assume his responsibilities?”

“Another somewhat forgotten aspect is that there are also many men who want to take their responsibility and share this with women,” concludes Jan Brynhildsen.