• This Is Your Brain on Birth Control

  • The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences
  • By: Sarah Hill
  • Narrated by: Nan McNamara
  • Length: 8 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (188 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. Women are going to college, graduating, and entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before, and there's good reason to believe that the birth control pill has a lot to do with this. But there's a lot more to the pill than meets the eye. 

Although women go on the pill for a small handful of targeted effects (pregnancy prevention and clearer skin, yay!), sex hormones can't work that way. Sex hormones impact the activities of billions of cells in the body at once, many of which are in the brain. There, they play a role in influencing attraction, sexual motivation, stress, hunger, eating patterns, emotion regulation, friendships, aggression, mood, learning, and more. This means that being on the birth control pill makes women a different version of themselves than when they are off of it. And this is a big deal. For instance, women on the pill have a dampened cortisol spike in response to stress. While this might sound great (no stress!), it can have negative implications for learning, memory, and mood. Additionally, because the pill influences who women are attracted to, being on the pill may inadvertently influence who women choose as partners, which can have important implications for their relationships once they go off it. Sometimes these changes are for the better...but other times, they're for the worse. By changing what women's brains do, the pill also has the ability to have cascading effects on everything and everyone that a woman encounters. This means that the reach of the pill extends far beyond women's own bodies, having a major impact on society and the world. 

This paradigm-shattering 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. It also serves as a rallying cry for women to demand more information from science about how their bodies and brains work and to advocate for better research. This book will help women make more informed decisions about their health, whether they're on the pill or off of it.

*Includes a PDF of figures from the book.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Sarah Hill (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about This Is Your Brain on Birth Control

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    4 out of 5 stars

Alright.

The subject matter was interesting, and worth the read/discussion, but the voiceover from Nan makes it sound like you are being talked down to. The author states this is a scientific piece, but it is not. Her metaphors and analogies are for 2nd graders. I am glad she included the graphs and charts from the studies she talks about, but everything she mentions is up in the air with no discernable evidence. Luckily, she is aware of this, and makes sure it is clear throughout the book that these issues need to be studied further. It is a good stepping stone into these issues and I hope to see more information about hormonal contraceptives soon. I would recommend, but prepare for repetitive writing in an annoying tone.

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A Must-Read for Men Too

This book was fascinating. Admittedly, much of the book is speculative in nature, since in-depth research and studies have not been done on all the ways the Pill has potentially impacted women, and by extension, the world. Regardless, the research findings that DO exist certainly give one pause. It's compelling enough that this book will be required reading for not only my daughter, but my 3 sons, as well.

2 people found this helpful

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This book changed my life.

As a general rule, I don’t write reviews, but I have recommended this book countless times.

I wish it was available decades ago. It is a much-needed, detailed, approachable review of the available literature on hormones, how they interact with each other and other systems in the body and brain, and what hormonal contraceptives do to those systems. Each chapter resulted in a paradigm shift for me. I only wish I had read it sooner!

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  • 04-08-21

so much new info

this was great. The last chapter will really get into you. she presented a lot of interesting research while bringing to light some gender imbalances.

1 person found this helpful

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A book all women should read!

This book does a great job explaining science without being pushy about what you should do for your own body.

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  • 12-20-19

Objective, unbiased and interesting

a very unbiased and objective look at how the pill changes your brain. not an advertisement for getting off the pill AT ALL. it did slow down a little in the middle chapters (lots of repetition) but chapter 11 blew my mind. well written and enthralling!

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Good for young adults or those without a science background

I’ve got a BS in a human biology related field and I found it to be a little too simplistic, but I would absolutely recommend it for a high school student who is interested in the topic or someone considering birth control who doesn’t have a background in science.

I didn’t feel like some of the scientific points were explained well, given that some studies were preliminary and haven’t been repeated yet. Also, some of the studies discussed have been talking points for political organizations seeking to take away people’s health care options (though the author clearly states that this is not their opinion)

To me, the colloquial writing style didn’t pair well with the narration, at times it felt like I was being lectured by a grade school teacher who was trying to sound cool by cursing.

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Everyone should read (or listen to) this book!!

Everyone should read (or listen to) this book!!

For a long time, I had considered myself “well educated” with regards to women’s sexual and reproductive health, but once I started reading this book, I realized there was SO MUCH I didn’t know! As a woman who has been on hormonal birth control for the majority of my teens and into my twenties, I finally have the information to explain and validate my experiences. Thank you Sarah Hill for writing this book!

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Very Informational

It felt like too many unnecessary words at too many different times in the book. Other than that it’s worth the read.

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Great book AND narrator

Nonfiction titles are often read by dry, deadpan narrators who make it extra hard to absorb the information. This narrator is the opposite of that. She read with emphasis and enthusiasm and seemed like she tried to match the tone of the author.

The content of this book is information every human should have - not just women.