We know a lot about the small but serious health risks associated with the pill – things like stroke and blood clots. Why have we been kept in the dark about the effects on the brain?
Until very recently, there has been little research. And the research that is out there doctors often aren’t aware of because it isn’t being published in the medical journals they look at, but rather in psychology and neuroscience journals. Then society has taboos about talking about it. The best defence against the sexist notion that women’s hormones make them less rational than men seemed to be to deny hormonal involvement in the brain. And the pill is so useful, no one is motivated to examine it too critically. But our hormones, especially our sex hormones, are a key part of what creates the experience of feeling like ourselves. And talking critically about the pill doesn’t mean that the benefits aren’t going to outweigh the cost. It’s not antithetical to women’s rights to talk about this stuff.