Part 1: The Effect of Hormonal Birth Control on Mental Health – Interview with Holly Grigg-Spall

More than a year ago on March 24, 2016, I interviewed Holly Grigg-Spall at Cafecito Organico about her book Sweetening the Pill. We talked about ovulation, misogyny in the medical field, how hormonal birth control affects mental health and more. Her book and the interview were both very in-depth and at the time very overwhelming for me, but the information is important and crucial to understand so I knew I had to figure out a way to write about it. I decided it would be best to post her interview in parts so as to not overwhelm anyone and to let you slowly take in all of her knowledge.

Below is Part One of her interview that explains how hormonal birth control affects the whole body.

holly and shannen
Left: Holly Grigg-Spall of Sweetening the Pill; Right: Shannen Roberts of The Strange is Beautiful

The purpose of posting her interview is – once all the parts are posted – to show why it is important when experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other mind obstacles to first consider hormonal birth control as a potential leading cause. After reading her book, interviewing her, doing my own research and speaking to others about their experiences with hormonal birth control, I strongly recommend considering to stop taking hormonal birth control if you are taking it solely to not become pregnant and not for life-threatening or debilitating medical reasons such as for cysts or endometriosis. This Part One does not go into detail yet about why, but I wanted to put this disclosure in every part of her interview so you know to expect an explanation of how hormonal birth control exactly affects mental health in later parts of her interview and so you don’t have to wait to read all the parts to see how you feel after without hormonal birth control, to do your own research and to possibly read ahead by getting her book. I hope these interviews help you make the best decision for your mental health. Feel free to email me at if you have any questions <3 <3 <3 


Part 1: How do hormonal birth control pills work and how does it affect the whole body?

Holly Grigg-Spall: “What they do is it’s essentially suppressing the hormones that your body produces – sex hormones that your body produces – and replacing what you have as a…it’s not always a monthly cycle but it’s a cycle. It repeats itself with a synthetic stream of hormones that’s consistent. So essentially you override your body’s sex hormones system and replace it with a synthetic consistent hormone stream that you take everyday.

“When you take a pill, you’re taking an estrogen progesterone pill, well synthetic estrogen, progestins is what they’re called, you take that and it flattens out the fluctuations, it stops ovulation as a consequence of that and it stops you from getting your period. So you have a bleed, but it’s a withdrawal bleed. Your hormones are connected to every bodily system, many many bodily systems, main systems are the endocrine system, the immune system and the metabolic system. When you replace it with a steady stream of hormones, a lot of people say it puts you in a pregnancy state, but it actually puts you in a menopausal state. It’s very very low because you’re not having the [hormone] fluctuations, it’s very low, so that means that everything else that’s going on in your body is changed.

“The best way to explain that is basically the functioning is suppressed, so your metabolic system is suppressed, your immune system is suppressed, your endocrine system is suppressed and so that has a whole body impact. You also have to remember your hormones are how you interact with the world, so they receive information from outside which they process, you have hormones, the ones that you put out, which are to do with how we are attracted to other people and sexual partners and all kinds of interesting things, how we communicate with the world, so they’re kind of like how we sit in the world basically and how we interact with it, so that is affected too, from everything like your senses, your sight, your smell, and your taste. To just like how you read the world around you. So yeah it’s physical and it will also read as emotional and psychological and it’s also about your experience. Extrapolation of any of those things obviously can come about from metabolic, you’ve got IBS or food allergies or intolerances, you might have endocrine or thyroid issues, immune system you might get frequent infections or colds.”

Next Wednesday will be Part 2. Get Holly’s book here.

Hope this all helps you make an informed decision on hormonal birth control in regards to your mental health <3
Sending you ++posi vibes++
Shannen (Shay)
Founding Editor-in-Chief
The Strange is Beautiful

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