Film Review: Unmasking a Killer We All Know in ‘The Business of Birth Control’

An overwhelming amount of women have been on birth control at some point in their lives. With that, most women have stories related to their journey to find one that worked for them. My birth control story contains chronic pain, scary side effects, doctor’s visits, an MRI, and a quest to find something that worked with my body instead of against it. Director Abby Epstein is on a journey to uncover the disturbing facts about women’s contraception as well as share a few despondent tales that go along with them in her new documentary The Business of Birth Control.

The 92 minute long doc covers the history of birth control, harrowing stories from loved ones who have lost someone due to birth control, and possible changes for the future of women’s reproductive health. Numerous interviews with doctors and experts shine a very bright light on the issue at hand in regards to women being put on birth control so recklessly for numerous reasons. Throughout the picture, both mental and physical side effects of birth control are revealed, which may lead to spectators associating past health concerns to these pharmaceuticals.

From the start of the documentary, it’s evident that something is very wrong with the women’s reproductive health system. Several women are asked on camera what type of birth control they’re on, what it does, and how it may affect their bodies. The answers are eye opening. Every woman seen in the film answers very cryptically and admits to a lack of understanding as to how the drugs work. Furthermore, most women give different answers as to why they are on birth control, shedding light on the truth that many doctors treat a wealth of issues with these medications, even if they may not be the most appropriate. It is evident during the film’s entirety that education is a gigantic issue, in that it is lacking when it comes to these topics, which makes this such an important watch.

Director Abby Epstein has a very efficient yet entertaining way of capturing the frightening secrets behind the birth control industry throughout history and today. Viewers feel alarmed and unsettled as they should, but by the end of the documentary, Epstein also gives them a comforting hug with the promise of better options for women. Some chunks of the movie feel like they may drag a bit, but that doesn’t stop the intensity of those watching in attempts to absorb as much information as possible. The film is produced by actress Ricki Lake, who has previously produced other contraception and birth related documentaries in search for answers on the subjects. 

The most sobering moments of the movie lie in the interviews with those who have had loved ones pass away due to birth control, more specifically Yaz and Nuvaring. The recounted memories paint a very dark picture of deceit and confusion that come with losing someone to an ever-present medication that millions of women take every single day. These moments with those who experienced loss at the hands of a commonplace drug prove that everyone is at risk and this is an urgent matter. These stories throw up alarm bells to all who watch, reminding us that so much must be changed, and women deserve more. 

It’s a scary truth that millions of women—myself included—are currently on some form of birth control that can also harbor such hidden, severe effects. This is a very gender specific issue that is simply killing women. Enough cannot be said for Epstein, Lake, and every expert involved in this movie that only aims to educate and give women more authority over their bodies. At the end of the day, this is a picture that everyone should care about, but every woman should set aside time to watch.

If you’d like to see The Business of Birth Control, head over to to register for a free virtual viewing from December 10-12, 2021. The website also contains multiple resources from the documentary that can help educate and raise awareness for safe women’s reproductive health options. 

SCORE: ★★★


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Written by Kendall Tinston

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