Part 2: The Effect of Hormonal Birth Control on Mental Health – Interview with Holly Grigg-Spall

Below is Part Two of author Holly Grigg-Spall’s interview that explains why low dose hormonal birth control pills are like low tar cigarettes, on the side effects of estrogen such as cancer and the importance of ovulation for our well-being.

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 Two.

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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 Two 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 2: Low Dose Hormonal Birth Control Pills are Like Low Tar Cigarettes, On Estrogen and Cancer and Ovulation and Well-Being

Holly Grigg-Spall: “When you’re talking about light dose [hormonal birth control pills], you’ll probably be hearing most about the Mirena IUD which they often say is low dose because that’s one of the supposed benefits of it. But you also get low dose pills advertised as lo, “L-O,” and the way that works is I compare it to low tar cigarettes. Basically for a pill to work, it has to suppress ovulation. So if you’ve got a low dose, often it’s a low estrogen dose which can make the progestin dominant and it’s really weird like the newer pills are often low dose and are all much lower dose than what was out in the 60s. They do that because estrogen can cause cancer and blood clotting so they have to play around with the estrogen levels. If you’re suppressing ovulation, or if the pill you’re taking is suppressing ovulation, it’s going to have side effects regardless extending from the fact that you’re flattening the hormones’ patterns and fluctuations and you’re stopping ovulation.

“The way our bodies work around ovulation and having our period is really essential to a lot of things like our heart health, our bone strength, cancers of the breast and reproductive cancer –  it’s all connected. Being able to ovulate is actually really important to our health and to our psychological state because if you’re actually experiencing natural ovulation, as in what you’re meant to do in your body, then you should experience a really uplifting emotional experience as well. With the Mirena IUD, it’s low dose because they say oh well that means it only works locally in the uterus, so the hormones are admitted and obviously it works in other ways in part of preventing ovulation including preventing you from getting pregnant. I think they say 50% of women with the Mirena IUD will find their ovulation stops completely, which means their period stops completely, usually, but not all will, it depends on your weight, your lifestyle, a lot of different factors to be honest. It’s trying to prevent you from getting pregnant so for some women it will prevent ovulation, for some it won’t, which is why some women will not bleed at all when they use Mirena IUD and some women will have weird inconsistent bizarre kind of withdrawal bleeding, they’re ovulating every other cycle. But the best way to see low dose is if it’s stopping ovulation, you’re going to feel it somehow, sometime at some point. If it’s not, you may not have as many side effects. But obviously having an IUD in your uterus has a whole other world of things, you can get migration and embedding and expulsion, but that’s all non hormone related.”

Next Wednesday will be Part 3. 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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