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This Is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,272 ratings  ·  378 reviews
An eye-opening book that reveals crucial information every woman taking hormonal birth control should know

This groundbreaking book sheds light on how hormonal birth control affects women--and the world around them--in ways we are just now beginning to understand. By allowing women to control their fertility, the birth control pill has revolutionized women's lives. Wom
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Avery Publishing Group
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Cherie I looked up the author on a different review site and Dr. Sarah E. Hill, the author of this book, is "A leading researcher in the dynamic and rapidly …moreI looked up the author on a different review site and Dr. Sarah E. Hill, the author of this book, is "A leading researcher in the dynamic and rapidly expanding field of evolutionary psychology Sarah E. Hill completed her PhD at UT Austin and is now a professor at TCU. With more than fifty scientific publications and multiple prestigious research grants to her credit, Dr. Hill has become an authority on evolutionary approaches to psychology and health. She has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Scientific American, and The Economist."

Much more credibility on this topic that the children's book author.

Goodreads, please fix!(less)
Tatiana Primarily the pill and the impacts of changes to women's sex hormones. …morePrimarily the pill and the impacts of changes to women's sex hormones. (less)

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Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

I was both excited and nervous to read this book as being someone that suffers from endometriosis and is on a combined pill for treatment (and which massively helps me cope), I didn't want to be completely put off taking it! But I am a scientist at heart and so I wanted the information anyway, as we all should.
Dr Sarah Hill is a brilliant writer and the book is split up nicely for different areas the pill can and does affect. I like to think myself well read within everything gyaecologica
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This kind of book is a must read for women on or planning to use birth control. It tells you all the changes that are not on that enormous information sheet that comes with the box but instead are far more likely: psychological side effects. It opens your eyes to all the things that may have changed in your life that you attributed to anything but the pill.
Having said that, there were a few things I didn’t like about the author’s communication style.

For one, she treats numbers as if they were
Valerie Fazio
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: won-giveaways
A fantastic, must-read for all women on and off birth control. Not only is this book chock full of information about the pull, birth control in general, and the effects of it; it is also PACKED with information and facts about sex, hormones and women in general.

I won this book on a goodreads giveaway and it is my favorite won book thus far. Non-fiction books are not typically my style of reading, but a book like this practically begs to be read. I ate up every word, soaked up the information th
Jillian Doherty
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book should be in every counseling center - chocked full of factual affirmations, opening one's eyes with paradigm-shattering data.

This book provides an even-handed, science-based understanding of who women are, both on and off the pill. It will change the way that women think about their hormones and how they view themselves.

The truth about how the pill can affect women is hidden but crucial and only starting to be known. No researcher wants to be on record as the person who took down hor
May 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
I only read the intro and chapter 1 of this book, and that was enough for me. I expected it to be propaganda for or against birth control, but it turned out to be propaganda of a different kind. Apparently women (despite the note saying there are many ways to define a woman) are defined primarily by the size of their gametes and reproductive viability. Does your body make eggs? Then you are a woman! And the only type of woman worth discussing (if you're heterosexual).

There is a disclaimer for w
Laura Lam
I found this really interesting. Learned about:

- how hormones work in AFAB bodies
- how birth control is made and the hormones synthesized
- that most research studies use male subjects, even male rats and even cells (!)
- a lot of the time this is due to the pressure for academics to publish often--takes longer to control for hormonal cycles etc.
- plus of course how birth control affects the body and mind, which is the bulk of the book
- the potential wider ramifications of birth control, e.g. the
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Excessive use of footnotes significantly impeded the flow (pun intended) of reading
Jasmin Abbott
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Brilliant summary of current evidence about what being on the pill does to your body that is extremely needed - however I would want readers to bear in mind this is how one person explains their (well researched) interpretation since, as someone with a scientific background, there are many points in the book I would be more critical of the evidence and therefore the interpretation. Not all scientists think evolutionary biology/psychology is an explanation for everything, which the author does no ...more
Laura Noggle
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
*Note: Despite the star rating, this book should still be read by anyone who's ever taken birth control for extended periods of time.*

I'm glad this topic is being talked about, but as the author states, more conclusive research is needed.

Yes, there are many unknowns when it comes to ingesting birth control, and much of this I think I've already gathered throughout my years. When I lived in Asia, I stopped taking birth control as I really didn't trust getting it in China where "controls" and "sta
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was so freaking interesting. It should be required reading for anyone on birth control - not to scare anyone - but because better information leads to better decision making. I learned a lot from this book that can explain some of my experiences on hormonal birth control, and that information will likely help me make good decisions if I ever decide to go back on it.

My one complaint about this book is that I thought the author generalized a little bit too much about women’s experiences
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book was very informative and definitely gave me great insight on birth control and how it works (against) in your body. However, the author added so many “quirky” footnotes that constantly left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt like she was bragging about how intelligent she is the whole time, as well as making the readers know that she is “trying her best” to put everything in a simple way, so that even WE could understand. I liked the book, but the author made me uncomfortable. I’ve never b ...more
Divya Shanmugam
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I really liked this book. It gave me questions I'd like to ask my doctor and this /very/ cool table that breaks down the types of progestins used in different birth control pills and side effects you could expect from them. I appreciate the author's inclusion of contradictory studies - it eased my skepticism towards lines about a study that studied X and showed Y. The only comment is that its written sort of colloquially, so I found myself skimming over some paragraphs.

I learned that the endomet
Sep 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Unfortunately, I was highly disappointed by this book. I was expecting an informative book on the pill, hormones, and how they affect our bodies, but was presented with a book that was deterministic, sexist, heteronormative, and many other things. I've tried to condense my main issues with the book in 5 points, but honestly there is so much more I could mentioned that did not sit well with me.

- Someone who writes a book on the pill, the female body, and sex, should avoid euphemisms such as ' yo
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
I didn't quite finish this all the way. I found the research and information presented in a clear, fairly unbiased way. It was scary to read how much we don't know about the effects of hormonal birth control on personalities, emotions, reactions, mating preferences, smells, musical taste, etc. and to think about how simply the question is usually presented - don't want to get pregnant, take the pill, easy! Bottom line - the pill has made huge impacts on society and lives for good and, sometimes, ...more
Jaimie Krems
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As an evolutionary social scientist---I'm professor of experimental psychology at a large research-focused university---I had very high expectations for this book. It exceeded those expectations.

Dr. Hill is an incredible author and her work is not only readable, but it's also plainly fun to read.

I will be assigning this book to students and recommending it to those interested in women's psychology and behavior, evolutionary medicine, hormones---and simply to all who are interested in better un
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conflicting feelings about this book. I am happy to know more about the workings of hormones now ... but I still do not believe that - as the book repeatedly underlines - we ARE our hormones (we are also our socialisation, our community, our learned experiences etc. ...). A little bit too deterministic to my liking. Still, an interesting read.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm thrilled that the author wrote it - I think hormones and reproductive health and birth control are all massively understudied subjects, and ones that the public tends to massively misunderstand. It's nice to see this type of work laid out in fairly simple (if sometimes a bit condescending) language. Hill takes a feminist approach to her concerns about birth control, and her acknowledgement of the importance of the pill for many young folks who are tryin ...more
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you on the pill? Are you aware of the effects, besides preventing ovulation and thereby pregnancy, that this little pill has on you? Yes, on you, not just your body but your entire being? Probably not. If you’ve gone as far as to read the package insert, you’ve been informed that being on the pill may have some side effects such as acne, headaches and emotionality , but you haven’t been told that this pill may fundamentally change who you are.

Dr Sarah Hill is on a quest to educate her reade
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting and insightful book about the Pill that I would recommend anyone using or thinking of using hormonal contraceptives read. Many of the chapters were very informative and discussed issues that are not common knowledge - I for one didn't know that being on the Pill could affect my sense of smell, and my doctor certainly never mentioned it (or any of the other impacts).

As with other reviews, the author did lean quite heavily on the nature side of the nature/nurture debate and used
Carolyn Kost
Jul 19, 2020 rated it liked it
It is astonishing that so many women daily take a medication that "influences billions of cells at once from head to toe" throughout the body, without giving thought to the significant consequences these pharmaceutical have on every aspect of their being, how they think, look and behave, "how they see the world...and just about anything else you can possibly imagine." Your likelihood to divorce may even depend on whether you met when you were taking the pill or not. Hormones are powerful chemica ...more
Summer SSS
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book, so informative yet not boring. I really appreciated the author's overall tone on the subject, it made the read way more enjoyable and personal. ...more
Dec 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was hugely disappointing. I should have looked at the author’s credentials as an evolutionary psychologist before reading, given that the entire frame of the book is built on biological determinism (e.g. “you are your hormones” and not much else) and the assumption that humans are driven almost entirely by sex-driven, reproductive-seeking behavior. Evolutionary psychology is essentially a theory and yet it is used to no abandon in this book to interpret data related to research on the ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
But I didn't believe everything I read.
There are some great explanations of how women's bodies actually work. But it is always blamed on evolution. It was a base, animal discussion that gave no room for higher brain function or spiritual decision making.
I almost quit when the book said dual-mating (cheating) is innately built into womens psychology, especially when in a state of high fertility.
It got better.
This book is more science than self-help, so it was hard skip to the good stuf
Elly Call
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I expected an easy read but it was harder than I expected—not because Hill was in the science weeds (she was, but it was fascinating so I wasn't mad) but because the science challenged many of my understandings of sex and gender. It turned out to make room for a much more nuanced, informed view that wasn't transphobic--but at first, the book didn't seem that way.

Hormones inform behavior. Sex at birth informs hormones. Those are facts, they're real, but at first blush I BALKED at this book. I me
Pamela Usai
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always been a strong supporter of bodily autonomy, especially for female reproduction, whether is it contraception, pregnancy or abortion. And as someone who who has personally benefitted from female contraception and family planning, this book threw me for a loop. There were parts that I found incredibly enlightening - such as the comparison between female and male hormonal patterns, and the the debunking of the expression "women are hormonal", because, well, men have hormones too. Well, n ...more
Saniya Ahmad
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this day and age, most women worldwide know about and have used or are using birth control pills for some reason or the other. The primary reason for the usage of such pills is pregnancy prevention but it is now also being recommended by doctors for period regulation, ovarian cysts, acne problems and hair growth on the body. It is considered quite normal for women to be on The Pill for months and years, going off when they want to get pregnant. But what the reality is that The Pill doesn't ju ...more
Abigail Bowden
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Every woman should read this. Whether it's before you start birth control, while you're on it, or after you've stopped, it discusses a lot of the science behind birth control that is so often overlooked. I am heartily disappointed in doctors for being oblivious or refusing to explain some of the things that may happen when you use artificial hormones. The author does a great job of balancing the story, she never once says you shouldn't be on birth control. She only wants people to know more abou ...more
Maria Grigoryeva
This book is absolute must read for everyone who "owns a pair of ovaries" and thinking of going on the pill. Not to decide against it, but if using have as full as possible understanding of what exactly to expect. Tremendous work on summarising latest (apparently very scarce) research in the field. I must admit my own knowledge of effects was limited to possible weight gain and acne healing. To the extent i never thought of going on the pill being a big deal. But...
"changing women's hormones cha
Morgan Holdsworth
The perfect book for those considering starting the pill, those on the pill and those who have been on the pill. It offers a genuinely insightful look into how the pill really does change everything. There are moments of humour as well as experiences of other women which are equal parts informative and reassuring also. The book is well written and easy to engage with (with a similar level of biopsychology as included in a level psychology). I am so glad I actually took the time to read the book ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very eye-opening book when it comes to exposing all the unknowns of the pill and the lack of medical research in women's health.

Overall, I give it a 5 star in regards to information, however the tone of the author was consistently apologetic and over compensating. Her attempt to lighten some of the topic with humorous asterisks was distracting when trying to read up on a topic that is naturally dense.
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Sarah E. Hill, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology and a leading researcher in the dynamic and rapidly expanding field of evolutionary psychology.

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21 likes · 28 comments
“For a long time being female was treated by science and medicine as being akin to having a serious psychological disorder. Women were routinely prescribed hysterectomies or anxiolytics like valium to treat the symptoms of hysteria which is a syndrome with symptoms that are suspiciously similar to the symptoms of being of human female who has to deal with stupid sexist bullshit. Although scions and medicine has come a long way since these sorts of practices were common place every woman i know has had an experience of being treated as less rational version of a man. Sometimes even by our own doctors simply by virtue of our gender. There belief that women are irrational and therefore underserving of the same rights as men is something that has lingered in the public consciousness in a huge way. And women are very aware of this. We have to listen to a lot of people say a lot of dumb shit about our hormones and about whether we deserve the right to control our own fertility. These types of claims particularly when combined with sciences and medicine mishandling of women for so long have made it very difficult for anyone, even female scientists, to have thoughtful conversations about things like women's hormones and fertility regulation. These topics unaddressed by science are often met with suspicion by anyone who has ever owned a pair of ovaries or is an ovarian sympatist.” 1 likes
“Despite the newness of the science and tentativeness of the conclusions that can currently be drawn, changing women's hormones changes women. And this is a big deal. Although we don't yet know that the pill does the research suggests that it probably has a hand in women's mate preferences, our sensitivity to smells, our relationship satisfaction, the functioning of our stress response, the activities of multiple neurotransmitter systems, the activity of multiple hormones, our moods, our persistence in difficult tasks, our ability to learn and remember and our sex drive. And this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.” 1 likes
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