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The Better Behavior Show with Dr. Nicole Beurkens

Mar 6, 2019

My guest this week is Dr. Jolene Brighten, a functional naturopathic medical doctor and nutritional biochemist with a focus in women's endocrine health. 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 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’. She is a speaker, women’s health advocate and a medical advisor for one of the first data-driven apps to offer women personalized birth control recommendations.

In this episode, Dr. Brighten and I discuss the physical and mental health risks of hormonal birth control and the importance of true informed consent before taking it. Side effects can vary from anxiety and depression to increased risk for stroke, heart attack, thyroid, and adrenal disorders. Dr. Brighten provides us with a careful approach to the pill and how to monitor and maintain one's health while on the pill. Teenage girls specifically are 80% percent more likely to develop depression when taking the combination pill of estrogen and progestin. Those who are on “the pill” have a double risk of suicide after one year of taking it. Learn more about Dr. Brighten here.


The Benefits of Having a Menstrual Cycle

  • The menstrual cycle the 5th vital sign which helps to determine your specific and unique bodily function
  • A menstrual cycle can help determine numerous health issues such as hypothyroidism, poor liver detoxification, iron-deficiency anemia or the making of the wrong type of metabolites.
  • Symptoms from your menstrual cycle are your bodies way of communicating to you
    • This is an opportunity to discover the root cause of many different physical or mental health issues that may be occurring


Why Young Girls Are Being Prescribed Hormonal Birth Control - “The Pill”

  • For symptom management alone before ever giving their body the time to adapt to the new routine in their body
    • Types of symptoms include: irregular periods, menstrual pain, acne, migraines, mood issues like anxiety and depression
  • 60% of women go on the pill for symptom management which can result in major side effects and risks
    • The pill puts you at higher risk for strokes, heart attacks, clots, autoimmune disorders, thyroid and adrenal disorders


Mental Health Risks While Taking The Pill

  • Women taking birth control are 23% more likely to also be prescribed an antidepressant
  • Women prescribed progestin are 34% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant
    • Progestin is a synthetic hormone, progesterone is a natural hormone
  • Teenage girls specifically are 80% percent more likely to develop depression when taking the combination pill of estrogen and progestin
  • Teens who are taking progestin exclusively, commonly called the mini pill, have two-fold increased risk of depression
  • Young women have 3 times the risk of committing suicide while on the pill
  • Teens have a double risk of suicide after one year of taking the pill
    • The pill is easier to get now more than ever
    • BE AWARE of your daughters’ signs and symptoms;
      • Lack of motivation, withdrawals from social activity, raging emotions
      • These are can be normal symptoms of a teen but mixed with the pill they are at a much higher risk of harming themselves


What to Do Before Starting The Pill

  • Before starting the pill, try to spend at least one or more full menstrual cycles documenting your symptoms for each day both physically and emotionally in order to understand your baseline
    • If you can also attain lab testing (thyroid panel, CBC, homocysteine test) before starting that will also allow you to have record of that baseline to refer to should other health issues arise
  • Look into your family health history
    • If your family has a history of inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease use caution
    • A Harvard study found that 5 years on the pill with a family history of Crohn’s meant a 300% risk of developing it


How to Maintain Your Health While Taking The Pill

  • Eat a diet filled with whole food
    • Be sure to take a prenatal or multivitamin to help with nutrient depletion
    • Consider taking a probiotics
  • Effects of the pill can strongly affect your microbiome
    • Taking the pill has been shown to have similar effects of an antibiotic


Where to learn more about Dr. Brighten...


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