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The Girlfriend Doctor w/ Dr. Anna Cabeca

Feb 23, 2020

Your brain on birth control can have some pretty horrific side effects on your body. That’s why, when you’re considering going on the birth control pill, you need to research the current evidence out there, weigh up the pros and cons, and make an educated decision. Sarah E. Hill, author of This is Your Brain on Birth Control, joins me to talk about what actually happens to our bodies when we’re on the pill.

Sarah is a psychologist who specialized in studying women’s health and the birth control pill, in particular, after she noticed some changes to her body when she came off it. The biggest thing she discovered was that being on the pill actually damped her personality traits - coming off it allowed her actual likes, loves, quirks, and dislikes to shine through again.

Sarah explains what role cortisol has in our bodies. We’re often scared into thinking cortisol is such a negative hormone, but actually, it has a lot of positive actions. When we’re taking the birth control pill, however, it’s almost like our body doesn’t respond to the cortisol triggers and forgets to have normal, positive responses to situations.

The birth control pill can be linked to a lot of the health problems and issues our society is currently experiencing, such as post-partum depression, autism, teenage anxiety, and autoimmune diseases. Though Sarah warns against a blanket statement that all birth control pills impact all women in these areas; how our bodies react is really down to our individual brains and physiology.

Sarah also talks about how being on the birth control pill can actually impact what type of partner we choose. Research has shown that if you choose a partner that you’re attracted to while on the pill, you’re more likely to stay together if you come off it, as opposed to choosing a mate you’re not attracted to but has other redeeming qualities. But overall, women who are on the pill are less likely to get divorced than women with naturally occurring cycles.

Are you on the birth control pill? Have you had any of the health issues we’ve talked about on this show? Do you feel like your personality traits are less your own while on the pill?


In This Episode:

  • Why the birth control pill can dampen your personality traits
  • How the birth control pill blunts our body’s cortisol response
  • What the link between the birth control pill and post-partum depression is
  • How being on the birth control pill impacts choosing our mates
  • What the relationship between the birth control pill and autoimmune diseases is
  • How your brain and individual physiology impacts the way your body reacts to being on the birth control pill
  • Why you should monitor a teenager’s anxiety levels if they choose to start using the birth control pill



“Cortisol is part of how our body is embedding those meaningful events into our memories and making us feel good.” (15:31)

“Women who chose their partners when they were on the Pill were less likely to get divorced later than women who chose their partners while naturally cycling.” (29:18)

“There’s a million different factors that are going to influence the way that the pill plays out in your individual body’s landscape. So knowing what to look out for, keeping a journal, and knowing what the domains of influence are can really help women start conversations with their doctors to troubleshoot their options.” (43:18)



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