January 9, 2020
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…
Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.
Resources from this episode:
– Book: 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 by Jolene Brighten
– Birth Control Hormone Reset™
– Book: Adrenaline Dominance by Michael Platt
– Book: The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler
– Article: Science is male-dominated
– Article: Women aren’t properly represented in scientific studies.
– 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 by Stacy Sims
– Book: In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life by Alisa Vitti
– Organ meats by U.S. Wellness meats
– Ancestral Supplements organ capsules
– Oova birth control tracking method
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9 thoughts on “The Pill – Everything You Need To Know About The Dangers Of The Pill, How To Get Off It Safely & Safer, More Natural Birth Control Alternatives.”
The vuori coupon code isn’t working. Any idea why it isn’t?
Stay tuned, I'll get that taken care of.
Amazing episode. Thank you for sharing such in depth science and knowledge about hormonal birth control, but especially on women’s cycle. As a trainer, a husband and male human this was very insightful as well as terrifying.
As a trainer beginning to work with female athletes, is there a resource (book, podcast, website etc) that I could better understand female physical performance and physiology?
Side note: signed up for the VIP text, then tried to submit my email for the bonus mentioned in the video but I got an error message that the mailing list wasn’t active and to notify the website.
I have read news stories about hormonal/chemical contraception and the environment particularly downriver from water treatment plants e.g. stories about hermaphroditism in fish. Have you heard or read about the effects on the food chain of these hormones?
Thank you so much for this episode. I have been struggling with a lot of these issues but did not connect them to my IUD. And I have many friends and family members who I am sure will benefit from listening to this episode and from buying Dr. Brighten’s book. Thanks, Ben!
I had hoped to learn about how the pills can be deadly. Five years ago we had two family members in their 20’s with pulmonary embolism both only lived because there was someone home when they hit the floor and bathtub. This Monday my 24 year old niece was hospitalized for PE. All were due to birth control. These dangerous drugs should not be available. Forty years ago if they killed women it took decades now it takes two months! Oh and the extra bonus is during pregnancy you must be on blood thinner which insurance may not pay for, one family paid $600 per month x 9!
Thanks Ben for this episode! It was great to hear about something so crucial to women’s biology — it would be great to have more episodes that deal with this topic in such a thorough and in-depth way.
I have a question regarding the book launch for Boundless on the 30th in Long Beach, Ca. Is it going to be open to the public or do you need to be part of the Metabolic Health Summit? I am looking forward to Boundless.
Jolene, I’m a 21 year old professional athlete with primary amenorrhea, despite a BMI of 20-26 (I am involuntarily a bit heavy for my sport at 142lbs and 5’6″) – so the problem isn’t directly energy deficit unless the body is erroneously sensing a deficit despite excess adipose tissue. I have Hashimotos, and take supplemental T4 (and a little T3). MDs thought T4 supplementation to normal levels would solve my low estrogen/primary amenorrhea problem and induce a period. It did not. Tried the classic ‘progesterone test’ which also did not induce period. So now they have me on birth control pills strictly for hormones I’m not producing, to try to normalize a period and reduce risk to bones. Ovaries and pituitary seem physically fine, so the hypothesis is that the brain/hormone communication axis is malfunctioning. Brain is not telling organs to produce adequate amount of sex hormones for normal health (they do not seem to understand or even have hypotheses about root cause). They also are trying bupoprion (off-label) for its apparent ability to “re-set” metabolism in some people – mechanism unknown but apparently documented – it doesn’t seem to be working for me at all, 12 weeks in.
I sleep great, and eat a phenomenal diet – whole foods/paleo, no gluten and very little processed starch, lots of real protein, pastured where possible, limited dairy, no milk, lots of good fats EVOO/no frankenfats (processed grain oils). I don’t binge. Rarely snack. Sleep long and well most of the time. Almost no sugars.
With this context, what is your advice for use of estrogen, progesterone, and what might be going on with testosterone I should watch out for? How would you address this case?
Thank you, and thanks Ben.