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When I first saw Dr. Sarah Hill on T.V., she was promoting a book that was about to be released which she researched and wrote herself called, “This Is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences.” I knew after watching her interview that I NEEDED to read this book, so I pre-ordered it on Amazon.
Personally, I have been on birth control since 2011. More specifically, I have been on the birth control pill since then with zero breaks. I haven’t always been on the same pill. I started on Yaz but then was switched to LoLoestrin. After I saw my doctor about the anxiety and depression, he took me off of Lo Loestrin and put me on Mononessa (at least I think that is what it was called). When I didn’t notice a difference, I asked to be put back on Microgestin because I hated Mononessa. Thankfully, my husband and I have reached a point in our life where we feel comfortable with me coming off of the pill. Plus, after doing some research (but before I read the book), I was starting to wonder if the pill was to blame for all of my mental health struggles.
If you are a woman, you need to read this book.
This book blew my freaking mind. It made me realize just how much science does not understand about hormones, specifically female hormones. It is amazing how female sex hormones can play a huge role in how we feel, how we act, and possibly even our taste in men.
The thing that I really like about this book is that Dr. Hill is not for nor against the pill. She simply wrote facts about it and informed the readers of studies that have been done and what they could possibly mean.
This book taught me that I didn’t actually know what hormonal birth control does.
I went on birth control back when I was 18 literally for the reason of not getting pregnant. I was in a serious relationship and starting college, however nowhere near ready to bring a child into this world. Some people would say, “well then just don’t have sex.” Okay, whatever, Karen.
What I realized by reading this book is that I was never actually educated about what hormonal birth control does. I went to a Catholic high school, which doesn’t educate students about any type of birth control other than abstinence. My doctor never really told me either. I just simply asked for it and she prescribed it.
This book taught me that hormonal birth control literally keeps the female body in one hormonal state. Literally in a state of hormonal deja vu. While this is interesting and creative, I’ve also learned it can come with consequences.
There are too many consequences of using birth control to name.
I’m serious. This book is like 300 pages long and full of studies and possible consequences (positive and negative) of being on birth control.
One positive thing about birth control is that it allows us women to have sex without an increased chance of getting pregnant. This allows us to focus on our education or careers before we bring a child into this world. This is a huge reason why I chose to go on the pill. I wanted to focus on my education and career, as did my husband before we decided to get pregnant. The book also talks about this positive effect that birth control has had on women’s lives. In fact, since hormonal birth control became a thing, women have started to outperform men in regard to education.
Studies have suggested that birth control affects the body’s response to stress, whether it be positive or negative. This quote in the book really had an impact on me: “because when nothing is being biologically flagged as a threat or an opportunity, it might lead women’s brains to believe that they are living in an unstimulating world that lacks promise of exciting new possibilities and challenges” (page 163). I could relate to this because I have often felt bored and not enthusiastic about what life has to offer me. Studies have also suggested that women who are prescribed birth control are more likely to be prescribed anti-depressants.
Lastly, this book kind of… pissed me off.
“This Is Your Brain on Birth Control” honestly made me frustrated because it proved how science clearly leaves out women. Men are easier test subjects because of their hormonal differences compared to women and because of this (plus some other reasons), women are rarely tested on. There are some other interesting things that Dr. Hill points out, like the irony of how anabolic steroids (aka synthetic testosterone, which is a male sex hormone) are illegal without a prescription because of the effects they have on men’s bodies yet women are prescribed female sex hormones and kept on them for long periods of time despite the effects that they have on our bodies. Interesting, right?
I could write so much more about this book and everything I learned, but I don’t want to post spoilers nor do I want to plagiarize. Bottom line: if you are a woman then you need to read this book. Whether you’re on birth control right now or are considering going on birth control (or maybe have a daughter that might be interested in being put on hormonal birth control one day). Read this dang book! And then we can rant together about it.
I wear a lot of hats: NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. A writer with a B.A. in English and Professional Writing. A fur mom and a wife. A mental health advocate and a septic shock survivor. An Airman and an athlete. I live in South Florida and am in love with the ocean. People can typically find me either in the gym or at home, writing or reading.