The topic of birth control was not the plan for this week’s email (actually, I was going to talk about holistic dentistry so stay tuned for that) but I just listened to this podcast that blew my mind.
I thought about the decade that I was on birth control while experiencing massive anxiety.
I thought about all of my clients who are currently on it and experiencing weight gain, depression, low sex drive, and thyroid issues.
I thought about how most women I talk to take it not for actual “birth control”, but for symptoms like acne, painful periods, PCOS and so on...
Dr. Jolene Brighten, women’s hormone expert, shared her myriad of knowledge on birth control, and the dangers of that teeny tiny pill millions of women take all over the world on the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. Here is the link to listen: Interview with Dr. Jolene Brighten
When you listen to this, if it gets too technical just fast forward 30 seconds. Also, ignore Ben’s sense of humor which is less than desirable (especially his rendition of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast… quit while you’re ahead, bro).
Key Takeaways of the Discussion
How the pill works (9:38)
- The pill works at the brain level, which can result in adverse effects on the brain - moodiness, depression, and anxiety are common.
- The pill can affect your ability to get pregnant once off the pill.
Dr. Brighten’s thoughts on the pill and weight gain (16:03)
- Birth control produces progestin, not progesterone which can lead to weight gain, water retention, and moodiness.
- The pill impacts your stress response. If you are stressed, exhausted, and overworked your body will signal to produce cortisol instead of progesterone.
How women should Intermittent Fast (23:43)
- Scientific studies are male dominant because it is cheaper and easier to study males.
- Research on intermittent fasting (IF) and the Ketogenic diet have largely been tested on men, so it’s difficult to see the effects, positive or negative on women.
- A week before your period starts (luteal phase), you may be craving bread and sugar, which is your body telling you to eat root vegetables like sweet potato or yucca to help with estrogen elimination.
Consequences of being on the pill (33:30)
- The pill could make a woman less attractive to her ideal partner, subsequently, this could make a woman not attractive to her partner when she goes off the pill.
How the pill affects athletic performance (45:20)
- The pill shuts down your testosterone production up to 50%, which can result in fatigue and reduced energy levels.
- Testosterone contributes to building muscle mass, bone health, and energy levels.
- A week after your period, your energy levels are up and you can do more physically. Typically higher levels of testosterone are present during this time in your cycle.
How to get off the pill safely (57:15)
- Don’t wean yourself off the pill. Just stop taking it if you want to be off it.
- About 60% of women on birth control use it for symptom management, so if you go off birth control your symptoms will likely come back. To rid yourself of those symptoms change your lifestyle and diet, as well as heal your leaky gut.
- Studies show the effects of birth control on the microbiome is comparable to antibiotics.
Natural birth control alternatives (1:08:38)
- Copper IUD could cause copper toxicity and have harmful effects on your thyroid.
Final take on the pill (1:20:07)