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Hey, Thyroid Thrivers, Warriors and Survivors!

In Episode #88, we once again talk with special guest, Dr. Jolene Brighten, best-selling author of Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth and founder of www.DrBrighten.com. She returns to chat about the effects of birth control on thyroid health.

We discuss (in this order):
  • Problem: birth control prescribed to mask symptoms, instead of addressing underlying issue
  • What are some of the ways the birth control pill can make thyroid disease worse?
  • 4 big categories: Gut, Nutrient Depletion, Hormone Imbalance, Inflammation
  • What can women do now if they are on the pill to support their thyroid?
  • Pill alternatives e.g. IUD, fertility awareness method
  • Depression and the pill
  • Gender bias in medicine
  • Side effects of coming off of the pill, e.g. post-birth control syndrome (mood swings, hot flashes)
  • Importance of the microbiome when trying to get pregnant
  • How high TSH can affect pregnancy
In Brief:
  • Dr. Brighten takes issue with doctor prescribing birth control for symptoms of e.g. headaches, depression, acne (things that have a deeper underlying question). This just masks symptoms. This is especially true with PCOS. Many women with Hashi’s have PCOS. PCOS is a metabolic disorder, not a hormonal disorder. Birth control relates to hormones. Pill masks symptoms. (16:20)
  • Long term-side effects: 4 categories: Gut, nutrient  depletion, hormone imbalance and inflammation caused by the pill. (18:20)
  • 1: Gut = Place where all disease begins. Problematic for women with thyroid disease to take pill because it causes inflammation in intestines and disrupts the microbiome. This leads to immune system dysregulation. Hormone imbalances also stem from the gut. Thyroid hormone gets converted in the gut, as well as liver. The pill disrupts these systems. Thyroid hormone therefore doesn’t get converted at the rate you need. Study done at Harvard showed that women who use oral contraceptives have 300% higher chance of developing Crohn’s Disease (autoimmune gut disease). (18:50)
  • 2: Nutrient depletion = The pill can deplete crucial nutrients. We need these nutrients throughout out lives, but especially in developing females. Vitamins B, C, E, as well as minerals such as Selenium and Zinc are depleted. The pill can cause hypo symptoms, even if there is no thyroid disease. (25:20)
  • Safe birth control methods. *No birth control is free of side effects* IUDs (e.g. Mirena), Fertility Awareness Method combined with condoms. (33:00)
  • A woman’s period and cycle gives so much insight into her health. (37:13)
  • Gender biases exist in medicine. Women have been complaining about depression caused by the pill for years. Male pill trial dismissed because less than 5% of men experienced depression, and this was considered too severe a symptom for men to have to handle. Why is it okay for a woman to suffer needlessly, and be told depression isn’t caused by the pill, but a trial for men be stopped because they experienced depression? (39:00)
  • 3: Hormone imbalance = Pill causes disruption in communication between brain and glands. In the intestines, it affects the microbiome. (43:00)
  • 4: Inflammation = Pill leads to intestinal permeability and inflammation. As inflammation increases, adrenal dysfunction begins. Fatigue starts because Cortisol can’t control disruption. (43:30)
  • If you go off the pill, firstly the body has to learn how to communicate again. And, symptoms you had before (e.g. PMS or acne) can come back. It is therefore important to find the root cause. (46:45)
  • When coming off the pill, you have to start healing your gut, and clear out infection. Pill can disrupt vaginal flora and lead to yeast. Support adrenals and thyroid. (47:10)
  • To help fertility and pregnancy: 300mg CoQ10 daily. This is a great antioxidant and protects mitochondria. Liver detox. Microbiome is critical – it also influences implantation. Implantation will not happen if there are high levels of inflammation, if nutrients are not present. Thyroid check is very important. If TSH is 2.5 or higher, must be brought down. If TSH is higher than 2.5, or TPO antibodies are present, there is a higher chance of miscarriage. (53:00)



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Questions or anything to add about birth control? We want your thoughts, please. You might just help someone else in need.