In the 1960’s the pill was revolutionary, giving women the ability to control their fertility and advancing their equality in the workplace and in society. But when the pill came onto the market, women were not fully informed of the side effects and risks. Sixty years later, any conversation around the drawbacks of hormonal birth control remains politicized and suppressed.
Today, over half the women prescribed hormonal birth control are on it for non-contraceptive reasons like acne, irregular or painful periods, PCOS and endometriosis. Hormonal birth control has been linked to depression, autoimmune disease, cervical cancer, fatal blood clots and other chronic conditions; yet it is still prescribed to healthy women as a panacea for every hormonal and reproductive issue.
With pharmaceutical companies making billions on blockbuster products and reproductive rights under attack, exposing the downside of hormonal birth control is controversial. Yet, as the scientific research grows, there is a rising consciousness around the mental and physical impacts of these medications and the landscape is shifting: A Danish study found an 80% increase in the risk of depression for teenagers on hormonal contraception. Younger generations want to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals and are scrutinizing everything they put in their bodies. Femme-tech and fertility awareness methods are becoming mainstream and hormonal health coaches are reframing natural menstrual cycles as more empowering than suppressing ovulation.
Looking at the complex relationship of hormonal contraception to women’s health and liberation, The Business of Birth Control features the stories of activists, doctors and scientists who are blowing the whistle on how hormonal birth control affects the mind and body. The film revisits the 1970’s Nelson Pill Hearings, where feminists disrupted the proceedings to demand informed consent and follows a courageous group of bereaved parents who are fighting to get warning labels on Yaz and NuvaRing fifty years later.
The filmmakers trace the shocking history of how hormonal birth control has been weaponized against communities of color, while capturing a revived feminist health movement that is embracing body literacy and redefining reproductive justice. The Business of Birth Control is primed to ignite the next women’s health revolution. It is sure to be required viewing for anyone with a uterus.