Private Project

Concerning Contraception


Concerning Contraception is a short documentary that reveals what we know, and more importantly what we don’t, about the mood side effects of hormonal contraception.


The short documentary Concerning Contraception is a compilation of intimate personal stories, medical expert insights, and current scientific research about the under-acknowledged mood side effects of hormonal birth control for many young women. As seen through the three stories of Bianca, Jayne, and Emma, women can experience various reactions to their prescribed contraception ranging from phases of severe depression, anxiety attacks, or even mood enhancements.

Medical experts, as a collective voice, explain that a large void of research exists for teens, even as the pill is prescribed at a dramatically growing rate for younger and younger women. During this particularly vulnerable period of adolescents, up to 50% of teens are taking the pill for “period problems” instead of contraception. Experts state that what is even less known, is why some women experience mood side effects, while others do not.

Jayne started taking the pill at sixteen. She recalls feeling depressed in her teens, a predisposition in her family, but found that her use of contraception actually improved her mood. For Jayne, there is no downside. She feels empowered that the pill enables her to plan for a family in the future. However, what is not known, is if Jayne’s experience is the norm or the exception.

Both Bianca and Emma found they were unable to recognize themselves or their moods while taking contraception. The implant left the bubbly and outgoing Bianca engrossed with dark and negative thoughts. While Emma suffered from crippling anxiety and panic attacks on the pill. At first, neither had any idea that their contraception could cause mood side effects. But once they stopped, they both found their symptoms lifted.

Experts add that presently the majority of research only tests for “clinical depression”, though what many women are experiencing includes feeling anxious, irritable, and angry. Women have been outspoken about these mood side effects since the pill came on the market 60 years ago. Today, research on the range of mood side effects that women experience is almost nonexistent. And why some women are affected while others are not is still unknown.

Concerning Contraception calls for more research to be done, and in the meantime, empowers women with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions for their reproductive and mental health.

  • Sandy Jeglum
  • Sandy Jeglum
  • Sandy Jeglum
  • Sandy Jeglum
  • Christina Themistocli
  • Eric Durr
    Graphic Design
  • Lauren Dutch
    Motion Graphics
  • Jack Rose
    Audio Mix
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Gender, Sexuality, Social Documentary, Human Interest, Health
  • Runtime:
    12 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 10, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    Canada, Denmark, United Kingdom, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Sandy Jeglum

Sandy Jeglum is a documentary filmmaker with over a decade of experience editing and producing short and feature-length films. Sandy focuses on telling stories that support gender equity, including web shorts for KIVA (2013), Foundation for Women (2013), and America Rise (trailer, 2018). In her directorial debut, Sandy most recently completed the independent short film that she also produced and edited, Concerning Contraception (2019). Sandy was the co-producer/assistant editor of the award-winning feature-length documentary CRAZYWISE (2017) and the co-producer/editor of the award-winning feature-length documentary Headhunt Revisited (2017). Sandy holds a Masters with Distinction in Documentary Production from the University of the West of England.

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Director Statement

In 2016, a study was released out of Denmark that found women using hormonal contraception have an increased risk of depression. The study was conducted with over one million women, the largest of its kind. For years, I suspected that birth control had impacted my mood, but this was the first time that suspicion was validated. While reviewing the research, I noticed that young women were most at risk of experiencing depression. I was unaware of this potential side effect and wondered if this was a factor in the depression that I experienced in my teens. After more research, I quickly realized that not all studies came to the same conclusion and the findings even contradicted each other. So, what was the answer? Did hormonal contraception cause depression or not?

After taking various forms of birth control for over 20 years, I wanted to know the answer for myself and the millions of other women using hormonal contraception. I began production on this film and started contacting anyone who had or was doing research on this topic. I interviewed professors, researchers, and doctors in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Denmark. At the same time, I put a call out to women across the globe to share their experiences. I wanted young women’s personal stories to be first and foremost in the film. I also felt that it was important to feature stories that encompassed a wide range of experiences, both positive and negative. I set out to tell as balanced of a story as possible.

Where I thought I would find answers, I was left with even more questions. I learned that overall, we know very little about the impact of hormonal contraception on mood, and this is particularly true for women under 18. I found few studies that included teens and those that did consistently found an increased risk of depression. Despite these findings, teens are prescribed hormonal contraception at alarmingly younger and younger ages – often for “period problems” instead of birth control.

Additionally, the mood side effects that women experience are not necessarily depression. Some are feeling anxiety, irritability, and overall have a harder time coping with their emotions. Speaking to the experts, I learned that the large majority of the current research is only testing for “clinical depression”, which means that almost all the existing research isn’t including the full extent of potential mood side effects. At the beginning of production, it was evident that more research is needed, but I had no idea that entirely different research is also urgently needed.

Women have been outspoken about the mood side effects of the pill since it came to market in the 1960s. Over 60 years later, we have research that supports their experience, but why some women are affected while others are not is still unknown. Research on the range of mood side effects is basically nonexistent. And it’s essential that more research is conducted with teens. It’s far past time for women to have answers. With this film, my goals are to shed light on the voids of research that exist; to amplify the voices of women emotionally affected by hormonal contraception; and ultimately, to empower everyone who chooses to use contraception with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions for their reproductive and mental health.