My guest on today's show, Dr. Jolene Brighten, is a functional medicine naturopathic doctor and the founder of Rubus Health, a women's medicine clinic that specializes in women's hormones. She is recognized as a leading expert in post-birth control syndrome and the long-term side effects associated with hormonal contraceptives. Dr. Brighten is the best-selling author, speaker, and regular contributor to several online publications including MindBodyGreen. She is a medical advisor for one of the first data-driven apps to offer women personalized birth control recommendations.
You might be familiar with her also as the author of Beyond the Pill: A 30-Day Program to Balance Your Hormones, Reclaim Your Body, and Reverse the Dangerous Side Effects of the Birth Control Pill.
Out of the 100 million women (almost 11 million in the United States alone) who are on the pill, roughly 60 percent take it for non-contraceptive reasons like painful periods, endometriosis, PCOS, and acne. While the birth control pill is widely prescribed as a quick-fix solution to a variety of women’s health conditions, taking it can also result in other more serious and dangerous health consequences. Did you know that women on the pill are more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant? That they are at significantly increased risk for autoimmune disease, heart attack, thyroid and adrenal disorders, and even breast and cervical cancer? That the pill can even cause vaginal dryness, unexplained hair loss, flagging libido, extreme fatigue, and chronic infection. As if women didn’t have enough to worry about, that little pill we’re taking to manage our symptoms is only making things worse.
Dr. Brighten specializes in treating women’s hormone imbalances caused by the pill and shares her proven 30-day program designed to reverse the myriad of symptoms women experience every day—whether you choose to stay on the pill or not.
Featuring simple diet and lifestyle interventions, this podcast will be a crucial step to reversing the risky side effects of the pill, finally finding hormonal health, and getting your badass self back.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-An overview of how the pill works…9:38
- Dr. Brighten is a former user of the pill; didn't understand the ramifications until studying in natural medicine
- It works at your brain level
- How do the ovaries know when to ovulate?
- The pill distorts FSH/LH levels, thus affecting ovulation, menstrual cycles, etc.
- Causes mood alterations and even difficulty getting pregnant once off the pill
- What normal FSH/LH levels should be sans the pill
- Day 1 of the period begins the “flow” of maturing eggs
- FSH and estrogen rise
- Once ovulation occurs, the corpus luteum secretes progesterone
- Every form of birth control produces progestin, not progesterone
- Weight gain is common
- Water retention due to lack of progesterone
- Moodiness is common
- Key point: A woman stops ovulating because the pill is affecting her body at the brain level
-Dr. Brighten's thoughts on supplementing w/ progesterone…16:03
- There's a time and place for it, but first ask “why” you need it
- Can help w/ anxiety, sleep quality,
- Women need progesterone to strengthen the myelin sheath in the brain; also w/ neuroplasticity
- Important for bone health and the immune system
- Book: Adrenaline Dominance
- Book: The Warrior Diet
- Some men can benefit from progesterone supplements
- A safe environment is vital for progesterone levels
- Stressful environments affect natural progesterone levels
- The body will produce cortisol rather than reproductive hormones
-Why women are not equitably represented in the scientific community…23:43
- Lean females should use caution while participating in intermittent fasting
- Laws forbidding women from participating in studies have inhibited accurate data
- The scientific field as a whole is underrepresented by women
- Article: Women aren’t properly represented in scientific studies
- Article: Science is male-dominated
- Basic economics: it's cheaper and easier to study males, be it humans or animals
-Real-time consequences of being on the pill…33:30
- It affects which partner a woman is attracted to
- Makes a woman less attractive to ideal partners
- A woman may not be attracted to their partner when they come off the pill
-Effects of the pill on athletic performance…45:20
- Shuts down testosterone production by as much as 50%
- Affects energy, bone health, etc.
- Fatigue faster
- Leverage menstrual cycles (Ex. U.S. women's soccer team)
- Affects both endurance and power/strength negatively
- Book: ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life
- Book: In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life
- “Listen to your body”; design your lifestyle around your cycle as much as possible
- Woman athlete accused Nike of destroying her body w/ their training regimen
-How to go about getting off the pill…57:15
- “All or nothing situation”; don't wean yourself off
- The brain is confused w/ reduced amounts of the pill if taking smaller quantities
- Women use the pill for symptom management, vs. birth control
- The symptoms will return if you don't adjust your lifestyle
- Prep the body for 90 days before going off the pill
- Protocol for Post Birth Control Syndrome, like addressing leaky gut issues, like slippery elm bark, marshmallow, aloe vera extract, colostrum, CoQ10
- Organ meats are good (nature's multivitamin)
- Focus on every system in the body
- Women have been able to save their own lives, advocating for themselves w/ doctors, in the ER, etc. (medical gender bias)
-More natural birth control alternatives…1:08:38
- Copper IUD is among the most popular
- Beware of copper toxicity
- Indirectly affects the thyroid deleteriously
- Carefully track and notate your own personal data
- Female condoms suck
- Females should know how to apply male condoms
- Natural Cycles app
- Ancestral Supplements organ capsules
- Oova birth control tracking method
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– Book: Adrenaline Dominance by Michael Platt
– Book: The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler
– Article: Science is male-dominated
– Book: In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life by Alisa Vitti
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