Rating: 4 / 5
Sarah E. Hill’s This is Your Brain on Birth Control is a casual and informative deep dive into the physical and mental effects of hormonal birth control.
Thank you to Avery Books for sending me a free copy of this book!
Hormonal birth control has been a huge aid in allowing women to live their lives on their own terms, without fear of unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. That said, hormonal birth control may also be affecting your body and mind in ways that you are unaware of.
Whether these effects are negligible or life-altering is based on each woman’s body, and if these effects change your perception or use of hormonal birth control is up to you. What is clear is the importance of understanding the effects that hormonal birth control is, or could be, having on you, and this book provides a starting point for considering this.
Please take caution while reading This is Your Brain on Birth Control if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Mental illness
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a scientist, or a researcher. I am simply a reader. What I share here, and anything else you ever read – including this book – should never be your one source of truth, particularly about medical information.
This is Your Brain on Birth Control was a really great starting point for me to begin considering how hormonal birth control affects my body and whether or not I’m okay enough with these effects to continue taking it. For the record, I have not gone off of birth control since reading the book, but I continue to consider it. I found the information Hill presents to be quite interesting, and NOT scary. There are many things to consider when taking a medication, and I appreciate that Hill lays it all out on the table for us to digest and use to begin making informed decisions.
Hill uses several studies throughout the book to provide anecdotal evidence of the scientific points she’s making. These are very interesting, but please take them with a grain of salt. Another reader of this book, whose opinions and knowledge I greatly trust (@herbook.shelf on Instagram), pointed out that a study at the beginning of the book has been disproved. Obviously, this is an issue and it would be much better if every study and claim in the book were fact checked. (As I said, consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.) However, I feel that the studies Hill spotlights are largely used as anecdotal support of the scientific facts she presents about women’s bodies and hormones. I was still able to find much of the book thought-provoking. I highly recommend you use a critical eye when reading this book, though.
Hill’s writing style is quite casual for a book about the negative effects of hormonal birth control. Her tone is a mix of academic, caring, silly, and snarky throughout the book. At times, I found the snark to edge into the realms of crass and defensive, which I did not enjoy. Further, she discusses feminism in a way that I didn’t find helpful or insightful or to add useful context to the larger discussion of birth control. Largely, I appreciated the tone and the accessibility of the writing, and found Hill’s use of footnotes delightful.
I could say so much more about this book, but I will leave you here. If you’re looking for a textbook with peer-reviewed scientific research, this is NOT that. If you’re interested in casually beginning to explore how hormonal birth control MIGHT be affecting your body and mind – that will require further research and discussions with medical professionals before you can make a decision on how you use it – I do recommend this book. It’s not perfect, but – for me – it provided context of my own body that I never had before and has triggered my interest in learning more about how hormonal birth control affects me.
*If you’d like to read more about what, specifically, I learned from this book, see my Instagram post on the subject.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on This is Your Brain on Birth Control. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!