The Scoop: Women around the world use hormonal birth control, but many are unaware of its side effects. Menstrual irregularity, loss of libido, and even anxiety are all possible side effects of the common medication. Dr. Jolene Brighten helps women make more informed decisions about birth control and their health through her book, online materials, and clinical practice. She also offers women natural alternatives to hormonal birth control and advice on how to talk to their doctors about health problems.
Most American women use some type of contraception in their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 13% of women aged 15 to 49 are currently on the pill, while about 10% use an intrauterine device or contraceptive implant.
Those birth control options are often touted as safe and effective methods for preventing pregnancy or addressing hormonal imbalances.
But Dr. Jolene Brighten suggests that isn’t the whole story. Dr. Brighten, a naturopathic physician and women’s health specialist by training, explores the effects hormones can have on women’s health.
That’s why she wrote the 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,” to delve deep into the issues that can arise with the use of the pill.
“I wanted to provide women with a user’s manual for their bodies and give them the information I wish I’d been given early in life,” Dr. Brighten said.
If women are diagnosed with a hormonal issue, they’re often offered the pill as the first — or sometimes only — solution. But Dr. Brighten seeks to educate women about the effects hormone imbalances can have on their well-being. The book also offers advice to remedy these imbalances through lifestyle changes, supplements, and nutritional modifications.
Some women experience side effects when they start birth control, including hair loss, lagging libido, extreme fatigue, and chronic infection. And those issues aren’t always taken seriously by their doctors. But women may not realize that they don’t have to live with those problems. Dr. Brighten discusses in her book how to locate the root cause of hormonal issues, attain a pain-free, manageable period free of cramps, acne, stress or PMS, and how to support liver detox, among other helpful topics.
“The book also provides them with tools to have a more productive conversation with their doctors and monitor and support their health if they do choose hormonal birth control,” Dr. Brighten said.
In addition to books, her website, www.drbrighten.com, has articles and resources to help women identify their symptoms and have more informed interactions with their doctors.
Birth Control May Not Be Right for Every Woman
Dr. Brighten said she doesn’t think women always have the right tools to understand their own bodies. Instead, she believes that women are often recommended birth control without clearly understanding its risks.
Birth control can lead to a variety of issues in women, including thyroid dysfunction, adrenal problems, loss of libido, menstrual irregularities, PMS, and anxiety.
Women don’t always link these problems to birth control or hormones, however. Until they read Dr. Brighten’s writings or consult with her, many believe they have to live with these symptoms.
“We serve women all over the world who are struggling and feeling dismissed by doctors about their concerns,” Dr. Brighten said.
But Dr. Brighten said she doesn’t think that birth control is inherently bad. Instead, she said she believes that women should have all the information about it when making choices about what to put in their bodies.
“I advocate for informed consent and want to support women in making the best decisions for themselves and staying healthy — regardless of what decision that is,” Dr. Brighten said.
In addition to her two books, Dr. Brighten and her team are always adding new content to her website and social media channels. The information comes from a variety of people with different backgrounds, as several members of the team have master’s or doctoral degrees in public health or nutrition science. Others have personally struggled with their hormones or have seen their loved ones face issues.
“Our team’s mission is to help women take back their health by putting the foundational medicine in their hands, helping them understand their bodies, and advocate for better care from their providers,” Dr. Brighten said.
Nutritional Advice and Supplement Guidance Promote Hormonal Health
In addition to reaching a global audience with her writing, Dr. Brighten is also a clinician who works with clients.
In her clinical practice, she focuses on teaching women to make better choices that support their wellness. Often, that focus turns to diet and supplement changes to promote hormonal balance.
Dr. Brighten’s expertise on the connection between women’s hormones and nutrition informs those recommendations. She also shares that nutritional healing advice on her website.
“As both my family and myself leverage supplements, I wanted to have a line of the highest quality products I could trust to give to my family and take myself. One of our core values is to think about our customers like our family,” Dr. Brighten said.
With that goal in mind, Dr. Brighten and her team created a line of nutritional and herbal supplements designed to support hormonal health. She began creating a supplement line when pursuing her degree in nutrition. During her research, she discovered that supplement quality varied considerably from product to product. So she decided to develop a standard, wholesome line of supplements to boost women’s health.
Women struggling with digestive problems can benefit from Dr. Brighten’s Gut Rebuild supplements. If they feel like Omega-3, vitamin B, or magnesium are lacking in their diet, they could take a supplement or two every day to boost their health. Dr. Brighten also offers products that support balance, the adrenal glands, and prenatal health.
Women can either take supplements for a limited time or subscribe to have them delivered to their home once a month.
“We aim to provide exceptional products that help women take back their hormones and their health,” Dr. Brighten said.
Dr. Brighten Wants to Continue Spreading Awareness
Dr. Brighten has helped many women understand their bodies over the years. And plenty of them have spoken about the impact her work has had on their lives.
One client said, “If it wasn’t for Dr. Brighten’s work I wouldn’t have my son. After all doctors gave up on me, I made an appointment to see her for one last chance at getting pregnant. She is warm, funny, and incredibly knowledgeable.”
Even with all of the praise, Dr. Brighten is not resting on her laurels. She’s working on her next book, based on the feedback she’s received from the community about the support women need.
Furthermore, Dr. Brighten said she aims to expand her website to become even more of a go-to resource for women’s health. As the so-called “Google of Women’s Health,” the site offers a wealth of advice relevant to improving women’s lives.
She also said she plans to continue her research on post-birth control syndrome (PBCS), a collection of symptoms that occur after women discontinue birth control. Her recent book was the first to include a conversation on the topic.
“We provide medically accurate information regarding women’s bodies, health, and options. My primary aim is to give women information, so they know what steps to take to reduce their risk of side effects and when they need to advocate for themselves with a doctor,” Dr. Brighten said.