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The Pill and the documentary, The Business of Birth Control.

I just watched The Business of Birth Control. While the content wasn’t too shocking,  I was surprised at the many women suffering through the many side effects.

The Pill has been a revolutionary form of birth control since its introduction in the 1960s, allowing women unprecedented control over their own bodies and reproductive health. It has been a cornerstone of the women's rights movement and has helped to shape the modern landscape of contraception. However, the Pill's impact is much more than just its role in the women's rights movement. It has also had a significant impact on women's health.  In this article, we will explore the history of the Pill, its effects on women's health, and how to make better birth control decisions with informed consent. We will investigate the ways in which the Pill has changed the landscape of contraception, and the potential risks and benefits that have come with its use.

It was amazing to see so many of the women I have admired for their knowledge and writing about hormones featured in this documentary. Women like Alissa Vitti, Lara Briden ND, Sarah Ellis, Maisie Hill and Dr Sarah Hill.

The message I see in this documentary is twofold,  we have been fighting for years to help other women look at informed consent and here we are in a society that since the 60s still does not provide informed consent around The Pill. Watching history repeat itself in the past few years is distressing, frustrating and I can't fathom why there are not more people outraged that women have been warning us of this, but due to censorship and heavy-handed govt policy we are taught to do what the govt says, or what your GP says (as long as they are inline with what your govt says!)

The History of the Pill

The history of the Pill goes back to the 1930s, when scientists first investigated the idea of using synthetic hormones to control fertility. In the late 1930s, researchers started to test synthetic progesterone on women to prevent pregnancy; however, the results were mixed. Around the same time, researchers found that synthetic estrogen could be used as a contraceptive. However, the use of progesterone was favored due to its lower risk of side effects. The first completed clinical trials were in 1957, and the first published studies on the subject were in 1959. In that year, chemists in Mexico created a synthetic version of progesterone called diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was easier to manufacture than the natural version. DES was demonstrated to be effective for contraception in 1959, and it was approved for use in 1960. This marked the beginning of the Pill as we know it today.

Effects of the Pill on Women’s Health

The Pill has been sold to use as a “safe and effective” form of birth control. However, the Pill has had a significant impact on the overall health of women who take it. The most prominent risk we are told about the Pill is an increase in the risk of blood clots.  There is also research showing that the longer a woman uses oral contraceptives, the greater the increase in her risk of cervical cancer. One study found a 10% increased risk for less than 5 years of use, a 60% increased risk with 5–9 years of use, and a doubling of the risk with 10 or more years of use.

A quick search on informed consent reveals that the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in healthcare defines informed consent as, a person’s decision, given voluntarily, to agree to a healthcare treatment, procedure or other intervention that is made:

Following the provision of accurate and relevant information about the healthcare intervention and alternative options available; and

With adequate knowledge and understanding of the benefits and material risks of the proposed intervention relevant to the person who would be having the treatment, procedure or other intervention.

Do you remember the last time you were provided with informed consent?

We have all been to the GP with queries like, I'm bleeding too heavily, I have bad PMT etc and the answer is always the same “ I'll put you on the pill.” Not really informed consent.

Some hormones are necessary for our physiology as women. Estradiol and progesterone are key, not only for reproduction but for our mood, bones, thyroid, muscles and metabolism. The drugs in the pill are not natural; they don't mimic our hormones; they are pseudo hormones. These pseudo hormones are linked to cancer, depression and anxiety and a huge list of side effects. “The onset of depression can happen within a day of taking the pill or a year of taking it. Women often tend to blame themselves for feeling depressed and forget to consider the effect of the daily hormone they are taking.” Professor Jayashri Kulkarni

Although called progestin, there is no progesterone in birth control. Whilst similar in name it has many opposite effects. These pills suppress ovulation and rob you of your natural progesterone

It is really important to know that Pill bleeding is not a period. It is a withdrawal bleed from the synthetic hormones you are taking. 

The side effects from birth control pills are;

    • Legs (deep vein thrombosis or DVT)
    •  Lungs (pulmonary embolus or PE)
    •  Eyes (loss of eyesight)
    •  Heart (heart attack)
    • Cancer
    • Brain (stroke) Acne
    •  Less sexual desire
    • Bloating or fluid retention
    •  Blotchy darkening of the skin, especially on the face
    • High blood sugar, especially in women who already have diabetes
    • High fat (cholesterol; triglyceride) levels in the blood
    • Depression, especially if you have had depression in the past. Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have any thoughts of harming yourself.
    • Problems tolerating contact lenses
    • Weight changes
    • Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
    •  Nausea
    •  Breast tenderness
    • High blood pressure
    • Gallbladder problem
    • Rare cancerous or noncancerous liver tumors
    • Persistent leg pain
    •  Sudden shortness of breath
    • Sudden blindness, partial or complete
    •  Severe pain in your chest
    • Sudden, severe headache unlike your usual headaches
    • Weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, or trouble speaking
    • Yellowing of the skin or eyeball
    • Headache

When discussing Birth control we are talking about hormonal birth control such as;

  • Rings
  • Mini Pill
  • Implants
  • The Patch
  • Injection
  • Pills

After watching this documentary I did a quick 10 minute search and found that there are legal cases against pharmaceutical companies for many of these products. Most surprisingly products like Implanon, which was discontinued due to safety issues, have rebranded as Nexplanon and reentered the market. 

The NuvaRing has had blood clotting risks from the time it was launched in 2001. People liked it as an alternative as it was administered once a month vs taking pills daily. The high clot risk was concealed by the manufacturer. Today there have been 3800 lawsuits filed, they have paid out 100 million in fines and this product is still available on the market today. 

Better Birth Control

There are better ways of birth control.  We have been taught that The Pill is the only way, but there are many ways of ensuring we don’t get pregnant.

Method Note

Failure Rate (when used properly)

FAM (fertility awareness method)

Tracking  Temp, cervical fluid, cervix position)


Copper IUD


Male Condom


Female Condom




The Pill




Tubal Litigation




The Business of Birth Control

The Pill faces almost no competition in the marketplace. The Pill is a significant source of revenue for the pharmaceutical industry. In 2018 the global market was $28.7billion. The Pill represents 60% of that market. 

For every 100 women on the pill 38 of them can suffer the side effect of depression. 

This then creates more business for the pharmaceutical industry as these women head into their GP for anti depressants. This doesn’t take into account the other side effects; terrible for women, but a great money maker for those making and marketing these drugs.

For yourself, your daughters, and other loved ones, please remember informed consent before committing to hormones that can wreak havoc with your health over a lifetime.

1.Smith JS, Green J, Berrington de Gonzalez A, et al. Cervical cancer and use of hormonal contraceptives: A systematic review. Lancet 2003; 361(9364):1159–1167.

Resources and important reading

Lara Briden hormone repair manual

Dr Sara Gottfried 

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