Recently I start to read a book so interesting, about a deep and controversial subject and mostly unaware from a lot of people. I saw this read suggestion from a live from the workouts account that I follow from the beginning of lockdown. A nutritionist came to discuss nutrition, hormones imbalance and so much more. I listen to the whole live, because it was so interesting if you want to follow her on Instagram; @jesstalksnutrition. At the end of the live she suggested some lectures to educate ourselves, this is where I took from this book, Beyond the pill from Dr. Jolene Brighten.
With this new article, my goal is first to share my personal opinion about the subject, the book, and to share some important information. If the whole pill subject is new to you or if you’re thinking to take the pill. I think that firstly, everyone who is thinking of being on the pill needs to educate themselves before and be aware how this contraceptive option will affect their body/mind.
I had this idea when I first began to read the book and especially when I had a discussion with my not any more so little sister. The fact that she does not have yet the resources to educate herself about this subject and what it really means. She’s thinking that she needs the pill to regulate her menstrual cycle. Then I realize that many people and me too weren’t aware of the real impact/role of the pill and how our body will deal with it. So I’m sharing my personal thoughts that I have made after reading this book and I have tried to synthesize the most important information from this book. I want to share too, the fact that the society or the specialists try to make you want take the pill because it’s the only « safe », « best » option or « just because it’s the responsibility to women to protect them from pregnancy, that’s their only role but where is the role of their partner? Why does the woman will only have the heavy role to protect from having babies for both of them.
♥ DON’T BE AFRAID OF YOUR HORMONES
At first, every woman thinks « what a pain in the ass these hormones! They will never be in shape! » I can’t deal with these hormones, they are so uncertain as they fluctuate every time. But the reality is that it’s normal, the women’s body is so complex even more when the hormones are trying to work with the rest of the body.
Humans with the world evolution, society, and what she wants to dictate, it brings the human to be even lazier to understand how the body works and mostly why he’s in the first place trying to send you these symptoms to make pay your attention and listen to your body. Now doctors and specialists are mostly trying to respond to these symptoms as to make them disappear. They aren’t looking at the root of each symptom and that’s the wrong way to heal you. They are doing this because yes they want to heal you by suppressing any of your symptoms with medical treatment, to make you feel better. But in the end, you’ll never understand why you are feeling like this and they will never explain to you, that’s the big mistake on the right path to heal in my opinion.
At that time you need to educate yourself as well as your family and the people you care about, to understand why are these symptoms here and what means their messages, because your body is trying to send you a message. Yes, you’ll need the help of a doctor or a specialist but doing your own research matters and it’s valuable for your health. Dr.Brighten said that your hormones are really important, they can give you remarkable insight into your health, if we pay attention.
If I can resume the effect/role of the pill with this brilliant explanation from Dr. Brighten: is that it floods your system with constant doses of synthetic hormones while suppressing others (= your natural hormones!!), throwing your entire system out of balance causing many of the problems we can have.
♥OVARIES + BRAIN
The birth control pill works by stopping your brain and ovaries from talking. That’s a real deal because these are supposed to work together and share some information to work as a whole. The synthetic hormones you’ll be getting with the birth control pill will take the job of your natural hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When you’re on birth control pill, your brain will perceive there are more than enough hormones, so it will diminish the signal that would demand the body to make more. To resume that means no brain hormones, no natural hormone rhythm, and no ovulation. As long as you’re on the pill, your brain and ovaries aren’t talking, which can seriously affect all your hormones. Please think about the long term effects, because yes right now maybe you’re goal is not to ovulate but yes the pill stops that to happen but there is so much more that’s going on.
One of the major roles of the liver is the detoxification process, it’s one of the organs of detoxification that eliminates hormones the body no longer needs, and that includes synthetic hormones from the birth control pill. The reality when you’re on the pill it’s that the liver is pretty stressed out from these fake hormones you’re giving to your body. In her book, Dr.Brighten explains how it’s important to support your liver if you’re on the pill, to help him process it all. To add plus all these hormones you need to realize that with our environment the liver is not given so many chances, with all chemicals in our beauty routine, in the cleaning products we use, the liver is clearly bombarded with chemicals that it has to process day in and day out. She explains that the birth pill control is messing with your liver’s genes. Because our liver produces sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which binds excess hormones in your body. When you’re on the pill, this protein increases to protect your body from the synthetic hormones. Just with this sentence that she wrote, you learn that your body is actually trying to protect you from the birth control pill and these effects.
Your liver produces a quarter or more of the bile you need every day, which gets store in your gallbladder. One of the ways you’ll naturally get out the surplus hormones is with your bile and when you poop, to get the estrogen out. The birth control pill can contribute to gallstones and gallbladder disease. If you’re on the pill you have more chance to be at risk to have these problems, because over time your body becomes less effective at eliminating estrogen, plus your body begins to struggle to absorb fat-soluble nutrients, and your poops get funky because of it.
One of the many effects of the pill is that it reduces your testosterone and lowers oil production as well, which is why it can be effective in eliminating acne. But the truth is that the pill doesn’t fix acne or all other skin problems. That’s a lie if anyone told you that even dermatologists, I’m the first one too had to believe that it will be a solution to fix my acne, to think that I will have clear skin with that « magic pill », but I was so uneducated and so naive (so young though). When you think about it you will realize that your skin is not your most vital organ, so in your healing process your body will heal your vital organs first, that’s a fact. That means that each improvement of your skin will take much longer than any other part of your body. You need to be patient, that’s for sure and not so hard on yourself too. We know that the pill creates gut inflammation, suppress healthy hormones, and burdens the liver so it can’t clear out unnecessary hormones.
« Your gut has everything to do with your hormones, and it may be the very reason you’re having to deal with symptoms like cramps, acne, headaches, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, or weight gain. » Dr.Brighten
The main role of your gut is to absorb the nutrients from your food, which in turn helps you make the hormones you need and break down and eliminate the ones you don’t. That’s why you have maybe heard that we have two brains: the actual brain and the gut. It’s like a house full of organisms, there is more than there are cells in the body, it will influence our mood, our weight, inflammation, and your overall hormonal health. The second role of your gut is responsible for moving hormones out of your body and helping you and your liver detoxify. The impact of the birth control pill is really bad because it will cause inflammation and leaky gut to a disruption of your entire microbiome, that’s how big the pill impact is.
Your gut is a house that consists of healthy bacteria. When your gut isn’t properly functioning, you can experience some symptoms like anxiety, depression, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, difficulty to lose or gain weight and if you think about it, it’s hormone imbalance. In general and even more when you’re on the pill, you need a healthy gut to remove excess estrogen and other waste from the body. If you have bowel problems that will lead with estrogen who sticks around longer than it should, that will finally lead to a state of estrogen dominance, to resume you don’t want that to happen. You have to poop every day to remove estrogen your body no longer needs.
The birth control pill will disrupt normal flora (what should grow in your gut) and allows an environment of harmful bacteria to grow. This kind of contraception will destroy your gut integrity and it also increases your risk of autoimmune disease.
In the first place, the thyroid has such a big role because it contributes to our mood, our metabolism, our menses, and our energy and it affects every single cell in the body. The thyroid produces two main hormones, T4, which need to be converted to T3, for our cells to be able to use it. It’s important that your has a healthy gut because it’s the site where the major thyroid hormones conversion sites. If, not your body will not be able to produce healthy hormones and you will have some symptoms.
This is how the birth pill control will affect your thyroid function: first, it will deplete vital nutrients that your thyroid requires to synthesize thyroid hormone, as well as the nutrients your cells need to utilize your hormones. Second, the pill increases thyroid-binding globulin, which means that your thyroid hormone is unavailable to your cells. Finally, the pill is inflammatory, it’s important because we know that inflammation is at the root of all chronic disease. When inflammation is high, your body converts T4 to reverse T3 which to resume means that you will make you store fat and want to got to sleep. The fact that inflammation makes cell walls less responsive to all hormones, including thyroid.
« Your metabolism causes the chemical reactions in your cells that create energy from the food you consume, and it can play a role in regulation everything from blood sugar level to hormonal balance. » Couldn’t say any better than how Dr.Brighten said it. Knowing that is a huge part of how the body is working the truth is that the birth control pill is affecting it too. I already told you about the fact that the pill causes inflammation and insulin resistance that will put you at risk for several conditions: heart disease, stroke, and cancer. You need to be aware of that and then make your own opinion about and if you want to take those short and long-term risks. But that doesn’t stop here, the pill elevates your cholesterol and blood pressure, that’s two more risks. Finally, the pill increases your risk of blood clots, which can cause a stroke.
The pill causes inflammation which will lead to your cells to become rigid and they’re no longer able to receive the signal from insulin to transport sugar into your cells. It means that all that sugar is left to your bloodstream and it will cause your pancreas to make more insulin because your cells really need it to live. This process will generate that your cells will become tired of insulin always knocking the door that they will stop listening and will ignore it, which will lead to insulin resistance. It didn’t stop at impact just your blood, but then it will damage your brain, kidneys, eyes, and ovaries.
Research has been made about different pills and the result is that they may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke because of the synthetic progesterone (drospirenone). This fake hormone act as a diuretic, it makes you pee more and it has antiandrogenic effects (to simply anti-testosterone), which improve skin conditions like acne. This drug will do many things to your body and that will increase your risk of heart attack, to resume how Dr.Brighten explains it in her book.
There is no doubt about the link between birth control pills and cancer, especially breast cancer. Research has shown that when you’re on the pill, you will have a higher risk of getting different types of cancer, like breast, cervical, liver, and brain cancer. The explanation by the experts is that the longer a body is exposed to synthetic estrogen-like found in the pill the higher the risk of developing estrogen-related cancers. Another study also found that synthetic progesterone found in pill type 2 may increase the risk of breast cancer.
The first thing to be aware is that the human body is a whole, all organs and every part of it work together, so it’s logical that if something doesn’t work properly it will influence the rest of the body. To explain that, research has shown that the natural cyclical changes in hormones influence mood, behavior, and social bonding. It’s a new area that needs to be explored by scientists. They are starting to explore how the birth control pill may be influencing not only your mood but also how you socialize and behave as a person. When you look at the side effects of many birth control pills, you will see symptoms like; depression, risk of suicide, mood changes, etc. It’s mental health and it should warn you as much as your physical health in my opinion. Today we aren’t talking enough about mental health like we are talking about physical health, but you need to pay attention. For example to get a better understanding of how the pill contributes to your mental health, let’s take depression for example, and how the pill elevates your risk.
Dr.Brighten explains that the pill depletes nutrients that are crucial for brain health, lowers testosterone, disrupt your thyroid and adrenals, causes leaky gut, and messes with your microbiome and any of these alone can cause you to feel depressed. That means that the pill is bad for your brain.
♥ASK YOURSELF AND EDUCATE YOUR MIND
I think that in the first place every young woman should be educated and aware of every possibility that she has to protect herself from pregnancy. We don’t have enough information, as long as I remembered I had one sex education class when I was about 13-14 years old and that’s it for the school education area. Let’s be honest during these classes we didn’t listen that much, because we were young and because the subject wasn’t taken seriously, we didn’t take seriously the important part. The second thing and I’m speaking for myself, we didn’t speak that much at home about the birth pill control and how serious is the decision to start taking it.
Finally the only gynecologist I saw never told me about the main role/effects of the birth control pill. Even if I was young and uneducated about it, I just asked her to give me a prescription and she gave it to me, as easy as that. I didn’t have any information about the side effects or the long term effects. That’s not right, the people that studied so many years to be a specialist in this subject should share any information to guide you to make the best decision for yourself and your health. They need to warn you about the negative sides of each contraception alternatives, not only sharing that for them it’s the safest solution to prevent pregnancy. Because behind that speech there is another reason and that the real one that everyone should be aware, because once you’re on the pill that means that you participate in this and that you’re aware of this business. Because that’s the ugly truth.
♥WHY WOMEN HAVE THIS BIG RESPONSIBILITY
When I was reading this amazing book I was asking myself why is the only woman’s responsibility to prevent pregnancy, and most important why in 2020 and before, we didn’t ask that question, why is that so « normal » to not even question this. Why today when you’re asking a woman if she is on the pill and she responds no to you, you have the big « wow, why? », that’s not right.
Every human on this Earth has its own rights, you shouldn’t give your opinion about these or criticize them. You didn’t like it if we speak about your rights and why you made them, so don’t bring your opinion about others.
I’m talking about this because it irritates me that for the society and in general, every woman should be on the pill, that is the next thing to do when you become sexually active or when you start a relationship. That irritates me that now it’s not a question in most scenarios. That’s it’s the right option, people want to make you believe that, but let me tell you to read this book and you will begin to ask you about the shit they think they know about the pill and why it’s the safe option for every woman.
It frustrates me, even more, when you look at the man options, condoms, and ?? I learned at the beginning of Dr.Brighten’s book, that not a long time ago, in 2016 a trial of injectable male contraceptives was suspended because they determined that the risks to men’s health outweighed the benefits. Out of 320 men, 20 said they couldn’t tolerate the side effects. So based on only 20 men saying they were uncomfortable with theses symptoms, researchers discontinued the trial despite the fact it being 96% effective. She explains they are the exact same symptoms women experiences at a higher rate when taking the pill and other forms of hormonal birth control. The final question she’s asking herself and the world is that it’s not the point to give to the men hormones but she does think that we should be asking why we aren’t improving our options for women, and I totally agree with that.
♥IS IT WORTH IT?
That’s the only question I want you to ask yourself If you read this article from the beginning and you’re currently on the pill for many reasons I have no doubt about that. Now that you are aware and educate about the subject, about that pill you’re giving every day to your body, has something changed in your mind? Does your opinion about the birth control pill change? Do you think it’s the safest option out there? Are you thinking about educating yourself more to be in peace with your decision and your body? Does your partner is aware of the risks you’re taking to protect both of you every day? Is he okay with that, to put you at high risks like that? I’m personally learning every day, I’m now aware of the reality of this pill. I changed my mind because I care about my body health and I know how important is to be aware of what you’re giving to him every day, how it will impact your future health. I want you to realize that is your choice to make not the society, your family, your partner, or everyone else. It’s your body, your choice.
Dr.Brighten said: « While I strongly believe women should have access to all forms of birth control, I also think every woman should have a resource to turn to in order to decide what is best for her body and reduce her risk if she starts taking the pill. Pharmaceutical companies have very little incentive to improve upon the pill because they know the burden of pregnancy falls on us. We are women, we cultivate, estate, and birth life, which is pretty badass but can also hijack our aspirations if we’re not ready. Which is why we can all be grateful for a means to prevent pregnancy, but this also leaves us asking, « Why haven’t we seen more advancements in this area? ». »
♥OTHER SAFE BIRTH CONTROL ALTERNATIVES
- FAM: Fertility.Awareness.Methode; is a non-hormonal approach to birth control designed to teach you how to recognize the signs ovulation based on your body’s signals. FAM is 95 to 99% effective when used correctly, and it doesn’t flood your body with side effects, to compare with the birth control pill, is considered to be 99% effective when used perfectly but 91% with how ladies typically take it. It’s based on several concepts :
- You ovulate only one egg in each menstrual cycle.
- The egg lives for no more than twenty-four hours.
- Sperm are patient little creatures that hang around for several days looking to impregnate you. They can live five to six days in the uterus.
- Add all of this up and you’re potentially fertile for a max of eight days out of your cycle.
- Condoms: with correct use, condoms are 98% effective, when accounting for use error, they are about 82% effective.
- Diaphragms: with perfect use, diaphragms are 94% effective, with typical use, they are about 88% effective.
- Copper IUD: this hormone-free. It’s more than 99% effective and doesn’t have to be removed for seven to ten years. Because it does not contain hormones, you will have a regular menstrual cycle while using the copper IUD, although you may experience an increase in flow or menstrual cramps. The side effects are small but serious.
♥POST PILL HEALING TAKE TIME
Dr.Brighten explains really well that natural therapies take time. Today humans are not familiar with the healing process that takes time because with modern medicine and medical treatment are pretty fast to recover with but at which long term costs? Everyone needs to be patient with their body. You need to allow time to your body to recover from all your past and especially all those years on the birth control pill.
First, your body needs a good detox because your liver has been working overtime, trying to process all that synthetic hormones from the pill. Then she explains her 30-Day Brighten Program, so if you’re interested I highly recommend reading her book, it’s easy to read and it’s so informative.
That was a really long article, but if you’re interested in the subject you will take the time to read and educate yourself, something I did. I hope it was interesting and that brought some answers. xoxo