Go Ricki! Inside Ricki Lake's Documentary on Birth Control
Lately, things have been good for Ricki Lake and her producing partner Abby Epstein. Their Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming documentary, "Sweetening the Pill," was a success, raking in more than 9,000 from 1,750 backers—so the ambitious documentary about birth control is officially green-lit to go.
If you're one of the 100 million women worldwide taking the Pill, you might want to add this one to your future Netflix queue. Inspired by Holly Grigg-Spall's book of the same name, "Sweetening the Pill" plans to take a hard look at the realities of modern birth control.
"We can't stop being amazed with what we're discovering; every day, we keep learning about more untold side effects," says Epstein. "We want to give voice and validation to thousands of women who've suffered from [taking] hormonal birth control and synthetic hormones."
Among those whose stories are told in this promo video: Lauren Alexander, who died at 20 of a pulmonary embolism after taking a generic version of Yaz; Devon Bell, who survived multiple blood clots in her lungs; Erika Langhart, a 24-year-old on NuvaRing who passed away after having two heart attacks; and Brittany Malone, who died of blood clot-related complications from the NuvaRing. Their stories coincide with findings that newer forms of birth control containing third-generation progestins (like NuvaRing and Yaz) have up to 1.8 times the risk of blood clots than older versions of the Pill.
"What's scary is that most of the [featured] women who experienced really serious side effects like blood clots, strokes, and other fatalities aren't the [typical] women on the warning label," adds Epstein. "Often, they are women in their 20s who are extremely fit and healthy, do not have clotting disorders, and do not smoke."
Along with life-threatening side effects, the film will explore lesser-known effects of taking hormonal birth control. (For instance, did you know that the clitoris can shrink up to 20 percent, according toThe Hormone Cureauthor Dr. Sara Gottfried?) The documentary will also feature alternative forms of birth control like the fertility awareness method, male and female condoms, non-hormonal IUDs, and new apps that can help women better track their ovulation.
"There's all of this new technology that is very user-friendly, likeClueKindara," says Lake. "I actually use it and find it very helpful in tracking my cycle—how nice not to have to rely on a pharmaceutical, but to be able to do it yourself."
Though Lake and Epstein aim to "spur a revolution that can change women's health from the inside out," not everyone is a fan of the project. The documentary has received criticism from some calling it anti-feminist;Time.com even went as far as to say the film is "anti-woman." But Epstein is quick to correct that perception.
"The Pill is probably one of the greatest things to happen for women in terms of empowerment and women's rights," she says. "It was such a huge amazing development in the 60s, and we're not trying to belittle that—but it's 55 years later. Why don't we have anything else?"
Set to be released in late 2019, "Sweetening the Pill" will explore that idea more in-depth—and I for one am pretty excited about it.
Video: Ricki Lake Wouldn't Do "The Ricki Lake" Show In 2018 - Talk Stoop with Nessa
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