Reset your brain and body for a pain-free life.

Joe Tatta, PT, DPT


Hormones, Birth Control And The Association With Chronic Pain with Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD

Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD

Women’s health is very special as it concerns menstrual cycles, fertility and infertility, menopause, and all issues involving female hormones. Birth control expert Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD recognizes this uniqueness. She discusses links between hormones, inflammation and chronic pain, balancing your hormones naturally, post birth control syndrome, and why this isn’t being discussed more in mainstream medicine. She also shares about the nutritional plan that she uses with her patients to help them balance their hormones naturally and come off the pill.

As always, it’s great to be with you. I’m excited for you guys because I have some incredible expert guests and speakers lined up. We’re going to cover pediatric pain in more depth. We’re going to look more into nutrition, lifestyle and its influence on chronic pain. I have got a great young researcher. He’s a physical therapist and an aspiring PhD candidate. He’s going to talk about how to assess the reconceptualization of pain, a topic that’s important if you’re interested in pain science and pain education. More in telehealth, I can’t believe how many emails I received from professionals who are interested in telehealth and chronic pain.

We’re going to talk to Dr. Jolene Brighten, who’s a functional naturopathic medical doctor and a nutritional biochemist who focuses on women’s endocrine health. She’s recognized as a leading expert in post birth control syndrome as well as the long-term side effects associated with hormonal contraceptive. She is the author of a new book called Beyond the Pill, a 30-day plan to support women on birth control, help them transition off and eliminate symptoms of post birth control syndrome. She is a speaker, a women’s health advocate and a medical advisor for one of the first data-driven apps that offer women personalized birth control recommendations.

If you’ve been following the Healing Pain Podcast, you may remember all the way back to episode number nine, Dr. Jolene Brighten appeared and she spoke about navigating autoimmune disease through pregnancy. We’re going to discuss the link between hormones, inflammation and chronic pain, how to naturally balance your hormones, what is post birth control syndrome and why this isn’t being discussed more in mainstream medicine, and why it’s difficult for women to come off birth control. Finally, the nutritional plan that Dr. Brighten uses with her patients to help them balance their hormones naturally and to come off the pill. Dr. Brighten is a personal friend of mine. She spent a lot of time studying and researching this particular topic. I know you’re going to love her, the information she has as well as her energy.

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Hormones, Birth Control And The Association With Chronic Pain with Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD

Dr. Jolene Brighten, welcome to the Healing Pain Podcast again.

I’m glad to be back.

We did a podcast on autoimmunity and pain way back in the beginning. I had all these topics I wanted to cover in the beginning, autoimmunity was one but I know autoimmunity and pregnancy, it’s a subtopic but you’re expert around hormones. It was great to have you on for that one. We’re going to talk about hormones a little bit from a larger perspective and we’re going to drill into birth control, which a lot of women have been on. Let’s give everyone a flavor of you again. You’re a naturopathic physician, you’re in private practice. How did you get involved in endocrinology? It’s such an interesting area.

HPP 124 | Hormones And Birth Control

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

My background is actually nutritional biochemistry. My first degree is in chemistry, the next degree is in nutritional biochemistry and after all that, science. I was like, “I want to study medicine that has the philosophy that the body has the ability to heal.” That brought me to naturopathic medicine. When we started studying endocrine pathways and I love nutritional biochemistry pathways. It’s like, “Give me complex pathways and I’m in heaven.” Our hormones are involved in everything, they are misunderstood and mistreated. We’re told things in women’s medicine our bodies are too complicated. Why even bother trying to understand them? There’s a lot that we don’t get education surrounding. When I wrote, Beyond the Pill, I’m writing this book because the day you get your period, this is everything that I wish someone would have told me and that every woman should know about her body. If you’re working in women’s medicine then you’ve got to know hormones.

From a conventional medicine perspective, what might be lacking in conventional medicine training that functional medicine, naturopathic medicine is able to start to connect the dots when it comes to hormones in general health first?

The biggest thing is the compartmentalization of the body that happens in allopathic medicine. I like to joke that at the end of the day, who doesn’t care that there’s a gastroenterologist, an endocrinologist, and a gynecologist, all this compartmentalization is your body. Your body does not care how medicine wants to piece it up because it’s all connected and this is a big problem in women’s health. If you have a lady parts problem, then we send you over to the gynecologist. If it’s your thyroid then we send you to the endocrinologist and if it’s your gut, then we’re going to send you to the gastroenterologist. Nobody’s talking and all of these things are connected. With the work I do, when it comes to hormones and when it comes to hormonal birth control, there’s often this idea that the reproductive system is completely separate and it has no impact on the rest of your body or your body doesn’t have an impact on your reproductive system. That is an old story in women’s medicine that needs to go away because the reality is we know if your guts are not right, nothing is going to be right.

Give me maybe the one in clinical practice that you see women can be doing better or need help around support around with regards to balancing their hormones.

The number one thing I would say is getting to know your body and collecting your own data. Think of period tracking apps. That’s amazing. I’m old enough to remember the days of us walking around with calendars and marking down your period. The thing that most women don’t recognize is that the data that their doctor requires in order to help them heal, they’ve got all of it. Lab testing is great but if you interpret labs without interpreting them through the context of the patient’s story, that’s where we get into like, “Your labs are normal but you don’t feel normal.” That’s because somebody is viewing it through the lens of like, “Here’s this huge reference range and where you fall in the reference range without considering the individual.” That’s one of the biggest things that when you come into my clinical practice, I pass you a journal right away. That’s what my patients get. I’m like, “Take notes while you’re here and then I need you to track your data.”

That is like, “When does your period come? How frequent is it coming? How long does it last? What is it like to have a period for you? Is it painful? Are there clots? What’s the quality of the blood? What’s the quality of your mood? What’s your sleep like?” We go through the entire cycle because there are ebbs and flows of our hormones. When estrogen is the main player, progesterone’s the main player, when testosterone comes on the scene to get you in the mood, to get you to want to have a baby. All of this is providing clues in data. I tell my patients all the time, “I can’t do my job unless you are very tuned into your body.” The most important information that helps me solve the most complex cases are coming from the patient’s story, their experience and what they’re observing is normal and not normal for them.

I love that part about the journal because there’s so much good research information. If a practitioner and their patient are working together and they’re paying attention, there’s so much good information around the menstrual cycle and pain sensitivity. People don’t connect the dots. “You have pain, we’re going to send you to the pain doctor or the pain management specialist.” An anesthesiologist who is specializing in pain medicine doesn’t even think about those things. They’re not thinking about how your hormones fluctuate with lifestyle and things like birth control and how that relate to pain. Tell us about post birth control syndrome and what that is.

Post birth control syndrome, as I have defined it and there’s an entire chapter of my book surrounding this, is a collection of signs and symptoms that arise when women come off of hormonal birth control. This is where the compartmentalization of medicine makes it tricky for women to get a diagnosis. Two things, one is hormonal birth control impacts every single system in your body. There is not a system it doesn’t touch. With that, women will come off of birth control that presents with symptoms and maybe it is related to irregular menstrual cycles, heavy periods, missing periods, painful periods, maybe there’s acne but it also can present as neurological symptoms. There’s a new onset of migraines, certainly new onset of autoimmunity and pain conditions, which you talked a lot about.

It can be things like a new diagnosis of IBS. You’re having gas and bloating, maybe you’re having diarrhea. For the first time in your life, you’ve developed eczema or psoriasis. There are a lot of ways it can present. Doctors will often think, “If it’s not related to your lady parts, then it has nothing to do with birth control.” The other tricky thing is that it arises on average about four to six months after stopping birth control. For some women, it comes on sooner. For other women, it comes on much later. What that usually looks like is that, “About three months in there were certain to be some issues but I handled it. I dealt with it, I lived through it.” Two years later, “I can’t handle it. I can’t live it anymore. Things are out of control,” because the body is very adaptable until it can’t adapt.

That is something where doctors will think, it was because of birth control. It would have happened the day it stopped, which makes no sense. Women who are cycling with the pill, they will come off and they have a placebo week. Why would we expect that symptoms are presenting in the placebo week and they go back on? This will make it tricky for women to get help from their doctors and for their doctors to recognize that like, “You stopped hormonal birth control and this is something that we do so different in naturopath functional medicine.” You go through that timeline and sure enough with my patients, it’s like, “I have anxiety. My doctor’s recommending anti-anxiety medication.” Let’s talk about when that started. “I came off of hormonal birth control. The next cycle I started to feel a little bit anxious. I wasn’t sleeping.” Three cycles later, “Anxiety was a permanent part of my life.” Eight cycles later, “I can’t handle this anymore.”

HPP 124 | Hormones And Birth Control

Our hormones are involved in everything; they are misunderstood and mistreated.


In the United States, how many women are on birth control?

The estimate is over eleven million women in the United States are using hormonal birth control. Worldwide it’s estimated that 98% of women have used hormonal birth control at some point in her life. It is a tool and an instrument that absolutely no one can deny, it has helped women be able to pursue careers, go to college and has been instrumental in the women’s movement. That’s a whole lot of women who are not getting the full story on hormonal birth control.

When you look at this post birth control syndrome, does someone have to be on it for a year then when you come off, is it ten years? Is it different for everyone? Is there any data or research around that?

Some of the studies have shown it can be as short of a period of time of six months. For instance, there was a study that came out that said, “If you’ve ever been on hormonal birth control for six months or longer, it can alter blood sugar regulation. It will actually make it so that in menopause, you’re over 30% increased risk of developing diabetes.” That’s super concerning. We also know that six months or less we see genetic changes within the liver itself. The liver will start expressing more sex hormone binding globulin for which the research has said when you come off of birth control, that doesn’t go away. The same thing with libido and for some women, they get through the first months of that pill pack or that first depo shot and they lose their libido, it doesn’t necessarily come back when they come off of those hormones.

Back to the liver. As you’re on birth control, your liver will produce more of sex hormone binding globulin. Let everyone know what that is and what that means?

Sex hormone binding globulin is a protein that grabs on to what is considered excess hormones to keep you safe. If you are taking the pill, for instance, you have to take a high enough dose of hormones to shut down how your brain and ovaries communicate. That’s how it works. People are like, “It’s a low dose.” It still has to be enough to shut your brain up from talking to your ovaries so that you don’t ovulate, that’s how it works. With that, that high enough dose has to pass through the liver. When the liver detects, “We’ve got all these excess synthetic estrogens,” it will then express a sex hormone binding globulin at higher rates to grab onto those hormones to keep you safe.

Excess stimulation from estrogen, whether it be synthetic or your natural estrogen is problematic for our breast tissue or endometrial tissue. It can cause some big problems and so with that, your liver and your body being very smart increases this protein. That has been documented as a genetic expression that changes. At the genetic level, there are also structural changes that happen to the liver as well. The genetic level, there’s been this alteration. The research then looked at what happens to women five years later? They’ve come off of birth control. It must go back to what it was before.

What they found was, women who have never been on birth control, they measured their sex hormone binding globulin levels, the women who have ever taken it never returned to that pre-pill state. That sex hormone binding globulin never comes back down. This is problematic because this is also grabbing onto testosterone. We’re talking about diminishing muscle mass. That’s a problem for women. We’re also talking about diminished brain stimulation, heart stimulation and bone stimulation as well. The thing everybody’s concerned about is the libido. The libido doesn’t necessarily come back. Although the research has said this, you will find the protocol in Beyond the Pill that I used successfully within my clinical practice to help women lower that sex hormone binding globulin to a healthy level, level up their liver right, get their libido back, start building their muscle mass and shifting their metabolism.

People are thinking, why is it difficult for some women to come off the pill and for other women, it may not be so challenging?

That’s where we need to see the research going. People are still debating like, “Does birth control actually lead to depression or not?” It’s like, “Hold up.” Since the 1950s, women have been complaining about this. It’s stepped onto the scene in the general public in the 1960s. Here we are in 2019, still telling women that their experience and their stories are not true and debating this. What we need to be asking is, “Why her and not her? Why for some women do they develop depression and other women don’t have that issue? Why do some women come off of birth control and it isn’t complete hormonal chaos in hell? Why is it that some women do well?”

You’re talking with thousands of women. The one thing I will say is that having your diet and lifestyle dialed in, so women who have made the transition successfully, it’s a lot of what you’re going to find being on the pill. Shifting your diet, shifting your lifestyle, honoring your circadian rhythm and then getting the right supplementation coming for you. Hands down, every single woman needs to be on a multivitamin or prenatal while she’s on hormonal birth control because it is depleting nutrients like crazy.

Things like magnesium, do you want to talk about what magnesium is involved in? Everything and yet hormonal birth control is depleting that, along with the vitamins things you need for a healthy pregnancy, liver detoxification and building the neurotransmitters. We also see things like zinc and selenium. Selenium is important for glutathione production, that’s an antioxidant. If you’re talking about somebody who is in pain or has a chronic pain condition, you can’t be gambling and losing these nutrients. You’ll hear this from women who will say, “I came off of birth control. It was so bad I got back on it. Then I started eating better and exercising and doing all these things and I thought, I’m doing all of this stuff to support my health yet I am popping this pill daily. I’m going to make the transition off.” It’s not so bad the next time because they’ve done that foundational groundwork to support their body.

You’re talking about lifestyle, which we love to talk about. The other thing we talk about is nutrition. I know everyone wants to know more about nutrition as far as it comes to pain. From talking about this post-birth control syndrome, is there a certain breakdown of macronutrients first? You mentioned micronutrients as far as deficiencies but macronutrients, to support your body coming off, do you need to maybe adjust those?

HPP 124 | Hormones And Birth Control

The most important information that helps doctors solve the most complex cases are coming from the patient’s story and their experiences.


Fat is going to be one of the number one thing that’s your ally. You may have seen it, we hang out in the same medical circle. There are these cardiologists out there who are brilliant and they’re saying things like, “You need to stop eating cholesterol and you need to avoid fat. You don’t want to get heart disease.” Sure enough they’ll pull me into it and be like, “Dr. Brighten says that you should eat fat.” The thing I always explained is that you can be a brilliant cardiologist making this recommendation and on who are they working with? Their patient population is 60-plus-year-old men who have already had heart attacks. What we know about women is when you get into menopause then your risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular events climbs.

Your hormones have shifted. You don’t have hormonal protection. One of the worst things we can do with a 20, 30, 40-year-old woman is a pullback. Pulling back fat on anybody’s a bad idea but that’s me, a nutritional biochemist. With that, this is how we build our hormones. You’ll read the dietary plan in Beyond the Pill and had a lot of people say, “I do have you eliminate foods.” No foods are bad. That is not my philosophy but we have to test what is true for you. For some people, gluten causes severe joint pain.

For other people, eggs will trigger migraines. There are different triggers for different people. We have to understand because birth control, in particular, causes leaky gut. Did you develop food sensitivities as part of being on this? With that, people have been like, “You live in eggs. Doesn’t everybody cut out eggs?” I’m like, “If you have an autoimmune disease, we want to consider cutting out eggs.” My patients have been my best teachers. When I would pass the elimination diet, so many of them with post birth control syndrome would keep eating eggs. Do you know what they taught me? It didn’t matter.

I investigated. Why would this be supportive to them? Egg yolk is a great source of cholesterol so that you can build your hormones. I mean if you’re not eating fats, you can’t actually build your hormones and can lose your period altogether. The other thing is it’s rich in biotin. That’s helpful so you’re not losing your hair after birth control. It has antioxidants in there. You’re getting high-quality eggs, you’re getting those antioxidants, these things that are also depleted by hormonal birth control, yet are needed to protect your ovaries, your brain, your mitochondria. We know mitochondria are everything and hormonal birth control does us no favors with that.

Can you tell us a bit about how birth control hormones affect the mitochondria?

One thing we have to highlight, if it’s gobbling up all your testosterone and shutting down and testosterone production, then your muscle mass is being impacted. We know as muscle mass declines, mitochondrial decline happens. We are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, which is about 60% of women are expected to develop that. That’s scary. The other thing is that it’s depleting key nutrients. CoQ10 is depleted while you’re on hormonal birth control. You’re not going to be able to run that energy center in that powerhouse.

Mitochondria are most concentrated in our ovaries and our brains. You’re on a drug that actually shuts down ovarian production like that means that your body’s like, “We don’t need to use those as much.” Your body’s not going to put as much energy and attention into that. The other thing and I don’t have a study to back this up, I’m hoping in the next several years we see one, hormonal birth control has been compared to antibiotics in terms of how it lowers microbial diversity in the gut. Antibiotics we know can decimate the microbiome, nobody stays on them for ten years at a time. We’re at a place in women’s medicine where some women had been on hormonal birth control for twenty plus years.

Taking this is decreasing microbial diversity. How does this tie into mitochondrial health? Where do those mitochondria come from? They’re derived from bacteria. If we know antibiotics decimate the microbiome and can impact the mitochondria in a negative way, which we’re seeing lots of studies around Cipro. If birth control is having the same impact on these bacteria, this is something where my little scientific brain is like, “What could that be doing to the Mitochondria?” It’s super concerning because we pass mitochondrial DNA as women. That is our lineage for the human race. We pass that mitochondria and our microbiome to our babies. This is something where I’m like, “I am not anti-birth control but I’m very much. Can we start questioning things and get the full story so that we can understand it? It’s not a women’s health issue, it is a concern for the entire species of the human race. That’s mind-boggling to me.

I got to bring you back from it because my nutrition brain is very excited. Try and make a connection between birth control and the integrity of the microbiome. Can you help me with that?

There’s a whole gut chapter in my book talking about how it increases intestinal hyperpermeability. It also has a negative impact on how your gallbladder functions. In fact, women can lose their gallbladder being on it. The gallbladder is not only going to help fat-soluble nutrients but bile is also antimicrobial. That keeps the guys that shouldn’t live in the small intestine from living there. The other thing is by way of how it impacts your thyroid, it can lead to hypochlorhydria, lower stomach acid so we don’t have a defense against first invaders. All this is setting you up for dysbiosis.

What’s interesting is that it is well-documented that increased yeast vaginitis, yeast infections in dental research increase in yeast in your oral mucosa that doesn’t go away because you stopped. It’s yeast overgrowth throughout the entire gut. We’ve got this yeast overgrowth, the system starts to shift with that. The thing that’s starting to be looked at, it’s like what is going on with the metabolism of hormonal birth control? When you take the pill, it’s supposed to be absorbed in your small intestine but not all of that happens. What we don’t know and it’s the next frontier of microbiome researches with these pharmaceuticals. Whenever they’re studying pharmaceuticals, they’re looking for that drug in your bloodstream.

There are metabolites that happen and these metabolites are something that has never been seen before. We did not evolve with hormonal birth control. We found this breaking down the metabolites and your natural hormones actually have an interplay with supporting your microbiome. Microbiologists talk about this, how you will metabolize your natural hormones and then with the microbiome in your gut and then take that to the vagina. They go back and forth and it supports the ecology overall. One thing is it’s not totally absorbed and it’s making its way into the large intestine.

The metabolites, we don’t know what they are doing 100%. It’s like other pharmaceuticals that they’ll say, “This only stays in the gut, it’s not absorbed in the bloodstream.” What is happening with the microbiome and those metabolites? That’s why we start to see alterations in the large intestine is it is making its way there and we don’t know what are the bacteria doing with this. These studies on how it’s impacting the microbiome, they’re relatively new. We are waking up to like, “Birth control is doing what to your gut?”

HPP 124 | Hormones And Birth Control

The body is very adaptable until it can’t adapt


About a couple of years ago, Harvard came out with a study showing that if you have a family history of Crohn’s disease, you have a 300% increased risk of developing Crohn’s disease after five years on the pill. This is something that is so astounding because it’s causing leaky gut, it’s messing with your microbiome, it’s a hormone which means it can be a triggering event for turning on an autoimmune disease. In addition to that, it’s causing inflammation, not in your gut alone but it’s systemic inflammation. When we’re talking pain, that’s a big problem. They’ve done studies where they measure one CRP, C-Reactive Protein, a marker of inflammation, put her on the pill and lo and behold, CRP is elevated. She has inflammation. That inflammation is playing out in some of the studies regarding brain health and how it can affect the mood. We know if anything affects your brain, it’s affecting your entire nervous system.

I love that because if there’s anyone in our audience who is a functional practitioner, Jolene took you through the entire gastrointestinal system. I can tell you, nobody mentions the gallbladder, which I love. If you mentioned the gallbladder, you’re a real practitioner. The gallbladder is so important and people haven’t taken out which leads to big problems. Your gallbladder gets screwed, gets decimated with opioids and you need that to process fat, to assimilate fat.

You wonder why people have cibo and they’re having diarrhea. They can’t absorb their nutrients. I like to say the gallbladder is the designer purse of the liver. It’s the accessory you don’t leave home without. I don’t know how much a designer purse cost but let’s say they’re $5,000. You’d be sad if you lost that designer purse. You should be equally sad if you lose your gallbladder.

You took people to the large intestine, which is where a lot of your microbiome is being produced and changing. In your large intestine, there are these folds where the food sits and not just the food there but whatever else you’re taking into your body, hormones that are all mixing in there. It’s all being used by the bacteria in there.

A friend of mine who’s a gastroenterologist, we were talking about what birth control does to the gut. He told me, “Do you know how many times they do a colonoscopy and I find medications that haven’t been digested in people’s large intestine?” That’s something important to keep in mind is that if you’re on any medication, we can’t assume it’s actually being absorbed and broken down and it may very well be hanging out in your large intestine and then those bacteria like, “What is this? This doesn’t belong here.”

Women are on this for a long time, should they come off slowly? Should they go cold turkey and change their diet? How should they start to look at this?

I go through this in detail in my book. The number one consideration before you come off of birth control is what is your backup method? Even if you do want to become pregnant, you don’t want to get pregnant under the six-month window. There was a study that came out, we need to go way deeper and this is not to shame anybody. If you did this, keep moving, an opportunity to do better. There was a study that came out and showed the risk of the baby developing a childhood cancer was higher if a mom got pregnant within six months of coming off birth control. Number one is you’ve got to have a backup method so that you don’t get pregnant.

The other thing you have to consider is why did you start hormonal birth control? Almost 60% or more of women are prescribed it for symptom management. If you had super wicked painful periods or you had acne and by the way, these women with endometriosis, they’re past the pill and dismissed on their chronic pain. Women are dismissed to chronic pain at a higher rate than men. We’re more likely to die of heart attacks like we’re told so often things are on our head. Trust me, I cover this in my book as well. With that, it’s something that we have to stand back and say, “Why did you start hormonal birth control?” That pain will come back, that acne will come back, what I recommend is prepping your body for a good three months before you come off of birth control. It’s one of the best steps that you can take. I go through lab tests, the side effects to look out for if you have those things.

If you’re at high risk for stroke, you aren’t got time to waste. You need to come off on birth control. If that’s the case, then typically what women do is that once they get to the placebo week, they go ahead and stop. You had a period and then you stop the pill two weeks later, you’re going to get another period, nobody likes the double period. That’s not fun for anybody. With that, people will often write to me and they’ll say, “I’m going to start cutting my pill in half and then I’ll quarter it. I’ll start coming off of it.” I’m like, “You’re going to get pregnant. You can’t do that.” It not how it works. It’s not that medication. It’s not like a Beta blocker, for example, that you can stop it.

With that, if you are going to stop it, you’re going to want to get into that 30-day protocol of prepping your body. I’ll give you an entire quiz. Part of my protocol, one of the steps is identifying your hormone imbalance because it’s not the same. The main troublemakers as what I like to call it is not the same for every woman. This is also the other thing that makes it a little bit tricky for conventional medicine because they’re like, “I have an algorithm, I have a box. Get in the box.” “No, you’re not in the box. I don’t know what to do with you.” Whereas in functional and naturopathic medicine, we’re like, “You’re an individual. How are you expressing as an individual?” You’ve got to figure out your hormone imbalance. I encourage women right away, you take this quiz and then it’s like, “Here, go read this. This is what to do.” I didn’t design the book to be read front to back. You can, I frustrated my publishers they were like, “We want everybody to read this all the way through.” I was like, “When your hormones are off the chain and imbalanced usually you get in and get out. You need your information, you need to get the solutions and then be able to employ those.” Come back 30 days later and take the quizzes again because things are going to shift. You’re not static.

The reason why I got excited because you answered it. Should women have a period of time where they revitalize their body as they come off the pill and prepare for pregnancy?

There’s an entire fertility chapter in my book where I talk about the considerations. Two years is ideal. The reality is that if you want to have a baby that you wanted a baby yesterday. What’s interesting, you know how it goes in the book writing process. I submitted this manuscript at the beginning of March on International Women’s Day. I didn’t plan it that way but that was awesome. I submitted this manuscript in March and then later that year, this study came out showing that if you get pregnant within that six-month window, there was a higher risk of cancer for baby. I’d already written that in my book. You have to go at least six months. My editors and my husband like everybody was like, “Did you know this?”

I was like, “How would I know this? This study just came out. I didn’t know this.” I observed clinically that the women who struggled in terms of pregnancy, postpartum, their babies had more complication. They were getting pregnant within a six-month window and they weren’t giving themselves full six months. You have to rehab your microbiome. You have to rebuild your nutrient stores. You have to make sure your gut is functioning. Otherwise, you’re going to be at higher risk of losing your gallbladder in pregnancy. You treat thyroid back on track because being pregnant is a stress test for your thyroid. There’re so many considerations that go into this and I guide you in that in my book. They give you solutions in a way where you can choose your own adventure and individualize this for yourself.

HPP 124 | Hormones And Birth Control

Hormonal birth control is a tool and an instrument that absolutely no one can deny.


Being a naturopathic doctor, is there any type of natural birth control that people can use?

Chapter thirteen of my book is all non-hormonal contraceptives review. I go through the copper IUD, condoms, fertility awareness method. I love the fertility awareness method because I think it’s an absolutely wonderful way to get in tune with your body. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists termed your menstrual cycle the fifth vital sign. That means it’s up there with blood pressure, temperature, these things how we know if you’re going to die or you’re sick. Your menstrual cycle is tied into that and this is a great way to track your data. Not everybody ovulates on day fourteen. When do you ovulate? What does it look like for you? Do you get acne before you ovulate?

The fertility awareness method is great but every type of contraceptive comes with side effects. Fertility awareness method, the side effect is you might get pregnant. One thing I’ll say about it is that you’re tracking your temperature, cervical mucus, you’re getting in tune with your body with all of them, studies have shown that it’s over 99% effective with how women use it and that’s perfect to use. If you’re not taking a backseat to your reproductive health, most women are on top of that, whereas hormonal birth control, the pill specifically is only about 91% effective with typical use.

That’s 9 out of 100 women are going to get pregnant while they’re taking it. This does happen quite a bit because we’re not perfect. I haven’t met a perfect human. I did the pill for ten years. It wasn’t so good, I’d always take it at the right time. There are a lot of things that happen when you’re in college. That’s important to understand. There are new reproductive technologies being developed. There is a gel being developed that will alter the cervical mucus. When you’re fertile, the cervical mucus is like a superhighway for the sperm to get to the egg as fast as possible. This gel will actually alter the cervical mucus so that they’re blocked. They can’t get through. There are other gels that kill the sperm. There are a lot more options out there but part of the mission of this book as well is to say, “Why is it that in the last 50 years we haven’t seen significant improvements in terms of this technology?” It’s time for us to get more options, we’re smart enough we can do this.

I wish you so much luck with the book. I know how much time and effort it takes to write a book and I know how much you put into it. It’s not only all your years of medical school. Year-after-year seeing patients in the clinic, spending the time at conferences, doing research in PubMed and talking to colleagues and the list goes on and on. I want to say congratulations.

Thank you so much and thank you for your support. I appreciate it and I appreciate the work that you’re doing in this world because we need a whole lot more of us.

I recommend everyone check out the book, Beyond the Pill. You can find it on Amazon and all the major retailers, Barnes & Noble and the store. You can go to Dr. Brighten’s website, which is Do you have any free gifts for people with the book?

If you go to, there’s over $250 in bonuses including five exclusive interviews. As you know, they make you cut some stuff out of your book. What I did is I actually took a lot of stuff that was cut off and I included more recipes, gave you nutrient depletions guide. There’s a whole lab guide for you. In addition to that, there are these five exclusive interviews that are going deeper into topics where I couldn’t go as deep in the book because there was a lot to say.

I know my tribe’s going to love it. Typically, women have more chronic pain than men. A lot of women, whether they’re young in between or perhaps older who are going to be interested in what their body is currently going through. What their body went through with regard to Beyond the Pill and how their hormones influence their health. Check out the book, Beyond the Pill, Dr. Jolene Brighten. Go to her website, Check it out, purchase it. I want to thank her for being on the podcast. Make sure to share this information out with your friends and family. Take this podcast and plug it into your favorite Facebook group where there are 20,000 women who are interested in the topic of pain, hormones and birth control so they can grab this information. Of course, share that with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever your favorite social media handle is. We’re wishing you a very happy and healthy life. We’ll see you in the next episode.


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About Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD

HPP 124 | Hormones And Birth ControlDr. Jolene Brighten is a Functional Naturopathic Medical Doctor, a best-selling author, speaker, and the founder of Rubus Health. She is a nutritional biochemist who focuses on women’s endocrine health. She is recognized as a leading expert in post birth control syndrome, as well as the long-term side effects associated with hormonal contraceptives. She is the author of the new 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” She is a medical advisor for one of the first data-driven apps that offer women personalized birth control recommendations.




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Dr. Joe TattaHormones, Birth Control And The Association With Chronic Pain with Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD
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