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The women’s health book you’ve been waiting for…

Apr 30, 2024

We are pleased to introduce you to Dr. Jolene Brighten, a naturopathic endocrinologist and expert on women’s health. Dr. Brighten’s recent book, “Is This Normal?” is a nonjudgmental, straightforward look at women’s bodies and health. In the Q & A below, we ask Dr. Brighten about her medical practice, advice, and books.

Will you tell us about yourself?

I am a board certified naturopathic endocrinologist focusing on women’s health, a certified sex counselor and nutrition scientist. I believe in providing people the tools and information they need to take ownership of their health. It’s my motto that I don’t heal my patients, I teach them how to heal themselves.

What led you to write this book?

Much of the information that women need to build healthier hormones, to experience easier periods and to have steady moods isn’t taught to them. I’m often presented with the question ‘Is This Normal’ whether it be by patients, my followers on social media or even taking a trip to the women’s bathroom (not kidding here). The consistent theme of these questions has made it abundantly clear that women have been left in the dark about their own bodies. I wanted to provide a resource that gave the scientific facts that can change your mood, your hormones, your libido and your periods for the better.

What are some of the biggest takeaways you hope people get from the book?

The intention of this book is to help women understand what their personal “normal” is, and to identify when things are not normal, while providing guidance on what exactly to do about it. There is an entire quiz dedicated to helping people solve hormone imbalances with key solutions that they can implement immediately. I’ve also provided checklists so that people can track their own data and know when to see their doctor, and the exact information they need to present in order to have a more successful medical visit. Ultimately I want to help people take back their hormones and take back their health by implementing scientifically backed lifestyle and nutritional therapies.

Any thoughts on what the solution is to the lack of information we receive about our bodies + misinformation/myths found online?

We need to overhaul health education within the United States. With only 18 states requiring medically accurate education, it is leaving a lot of people misinformed about their bodies. What I teach my patients and my online community is that they always need to view things through the lens of ‘what is true for me’. There is a lot of true information being presented online, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily true for you. In addition, when you come across health information that seems questionable or scary to you, one of the best things you can do is meet with your healthcare provider who understands your health best, and have a conversation regarding that.

What are some of the biggest mistakes we make due to lack of knowledge, misconceptions or myths out there?

One of the biggest mistakes that I see women make is delaying seeking care because they have been told that things like painful periods, pain with sex or irregular periods are normal. Unfortunately there are many providers who can be dismissive or even gaslight patients when it comes to things like painful periods or mood symptoms. The fact that there is such a long period of time between experiencing symptoms and actually getting a diagnosis of conditions like endometriosis or PCOS really highlights the problems women face when going to their doctor about symptoms.

What are some of the most common things patients come to see you for?

Patients often come to see me after struggling for years and going through multiple providers, trying to get an answer for why they are experiencing symptoms. Common conditions that I see are PCOS, hypothyroidism, PMS and PMDD.

Have you written other books?

Yes. Beyond The Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth

What birth control do you recommend other than hormonal?

Barrier methods should always be discussed, because while pregnancy prevention is top of mind for a lot of people, STI’s prevention is also important. When it comes to non-hormonal birth control options, there aren’t a whole lot available. The 2 top that most of my patients end up using are the copper IUD, which has a very high efficacy rating of about 99%, and the fertility awareness method (FAM). FAM is not to be mistaken for the calendar method or the rhythm method, those are different. The fertility awareness method when done correctly does have a high efficacy rate, however for anyone who is wishing to start that, I encourage them to meet with a FAM educator so that they can be successful with it. I always caution around using the pull out method during your fertile window because in that instance you aren’t using the FAM method, you are using the pull out method which has about a 20% failure rate.

What are your top tips for navigating menopause?

Perimenopause can start as early as age 35 and the average age of menopause is about 51. So what I recommend to my patients is to start training for menopause in their 30s. That means building a healthy nutrition and lifestyle program that is going to make you feel better today, but also ensure the health of your future self.

If you are someone who is already entering menopause or in the late stage of perimenopause, I recommend focusing on getting quality sleep and making sure that you are building and maintaining muscle mass, which also requires you eating more protein than you probably expect. Improved muscle mass can help with blood sugar regulation and is associated with decreased morbidity and mortality. I also recommend talking with your provider about hormone replacement therapy, the sooner that you start that in menopause, the more benefits that you can reap. Supplementing wisely with things like vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, creatine, fiber, probiotics and nutrients that support your adrenal glands are something many women report being helpful. The adrenal glands are essential as we enter into menopause for providing us with testosterone and some estrogen.

What are your top tips on how to be our happiest & healthiest selves?

Find things that bring you joy and prioritize those. Living your healthiest and happiest life isn’t always about what you put on your plate, the perfect movement in the day or even practicing the next greatest health craze. A big component of longevity is having joy in your life.

What’s next for you?

As of right now I am focused on Dr. Brighten Essentials, my supplement brand which provides high quality, 3rd party tested supplements, designed to support women at any stage of life. We’re currently working on new formulations and have very exciting things coming down the pipeline in making sure we provide the absolute best to our customers.

Where can people find you?

My website, Instagram, Tik Tok and Youtube

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