Episode 144: Your Brain On Birth Control

November 11, 2022 by Justin Lehmiller

Sex and Psychology Podcast

Episode 144: Your Brain On Birth Control


When it comes to birth control pills, there’s more than meets the eye. Hormonal contraception can have wide-ranging effects on both body and mind, to the point where who you are on the pill might actually be quite different from who you are off the pill. The way your body responds to stress, the people you’re attracted to, your overall desire to have sex—these are just a few of the many ways that hormonal contraceptives might impact someone. So, let’s talk about!

My guest today is Dr. Sarah Hill, an award-winning research psychologist and professor. She is author of the fascinating book Your Brain on Birth Control, The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences. Some of the topics we discuss include:

  • How common is it for hormonal contraception to lower sexual desire, and why does this happen?
  • How do birth control pills change the types of men that heterosexual women are attracted to? And what does this mean for their sex lives and relationships?
  • How does hormonal contraception affect the body’s stress response, and what are the implications of this?
  • Why does hormonal birth control increase the risk of depression, and is this part of the reason women why have higher rates of depression than men?
  • Do all hormonal contraceptives have similar side effect profiles?
  • Birth control clearly has many positive implications for people’s lives, but also a number of unintended side effects. What do people need to know when it comes to making an informed decision about which contraceptive to use?

Learn more about Sarah at sarahehill.com and be sure to get a copy of Your Brain on Birth Control.

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Credits: Precision Podcasting (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos used with permission of guest.

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Written by

Dr. Justin Lehmiller

Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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