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Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control Kindle Edition
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Holly is spot on with issues that rarely get addressed. The Pill is usually not the magic solution we've been sold, it simply masks the underlying issues, which then surface with a vengeance once the the synthetic hormonal tide is stopped.
If you are considering using birth control pills to "regulate" your menstrual issues, then read the book and think again!
Also, it was painfully obvious that this book was never edited before being published. Not only were there many typos but much of the writing seemed to jump all over the place in a stream of consciousness type fashion.
This book is a thoughtfully wrought and powerful manifesto directed at the forces that control our world and how they impact women- including corporations, consumerism, capitalism, sexism, and a culture that sexualizes and commodifies women, often with our consent. Based on Ms Griggs-Spall's early prescription for The Pill as a teenager, from a place of expectation of impending sexual activity and because it was "the thing to do," (which lasted over ten years) Ms. Griggs-Spall's book is part memoir, part historical narrative, and current-day examination of The Pill. She particularly focuses her research on the so-called "fourth-generation" Pill (Yasmin/Yaz) that contains ethinyl estradiol (synthetic estrogen) and a novel progestin (synthetic progesterone) called drospirenone, which has anti-mineralcorticoid, antiandrogenic, and spironolactone-like effects, along with a higher risk of thromboembolism than equivalent pills. She explores the forces that funnel women into mindlessly popping a pill with powerful hormonal (and all-body) impacts from an early age. This book is so obviously crafted from a place of empowerment and liberation- as we follow Ms. Griggs-Spall's personal journey from a compliant consumer to a defiant ant-Pill crusader, she forces us to examine our beliefs and foundations thereof- that I hesitate to criticize the work. Yet, I must add that with the passionate and occasionally didactic tone of the book, women who do choose to take the Pill are excluded and marginalized. There are no gray areas. You are either for or against. The content is vehemently anti-Pill, and perhaps this is from a context of the opposition that Ms. Griggs-Spall has faced from corporations, feminists, and Pill supporters that are so narrow-minded that any criticism of the medication is verboten, as well as her dramatic improvement physically and mentally from going off the Pill. The author forces us to examine our beliefs and foundations thereof-and has crafted a strong argument against over-prescribing, at an early age, a powerful hormonal medication, particularly before puberty is completed.
What is left out are the many women, collectively and individually, that have benefitted from the Pill. I can attest that natural remedies, at least in my case, didn't work for my debilitating conditions- I tried in vain to "be natural" for over fifteen years. What of women who suffer endocrine conditions, that for various reasons, feel dramatically better when their natural cycle is suppressed? I don't feel any less of a woman now that I don't ovulate. Rather, I feel relieved to end a battle that I couldn't win, and remain grateful for pharmaceutical research that led to my better health and wellbeing. In sum, this book is a powerful narrative written from a place of personal impact that leads to an examination of the forces in our society that shape our behavior and choices. I applaud its message, and the author for the courage of her conviction as well as the book's diverse array of complementary narratives- in literature, art, social movements, and culture that question our reliance on hormonal birth control. My only complaint is that it can be as counter-exclusionary as its target- those Pill supporters and promoters who have sought to quell critique. This is not a medical text, but is a brave personal and political polemic that strongly adds to discourse and debate about a key topic in women's health and well-being and is eminently readable.