Beyond the Pill Chapter 1 Summary by Leigh Ann Lindsey

Please Note** These chapter summaries of Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten are in no way meant to replace the value of reading her entire book cover to cover. As an avid reader, I have always taken notes for my own personal use. At the request of some of my own readers, I decided to share my notes from this book with you to provide a condensed version for quick digest. I cannot say enough how strongly I recommend reading her entire book.

Lastly, at the end of each chapter review I will include links to Dr. Brighten’s own video reviews of each chapter as well as any other links with relevant information.

Beyond the Pill was written by Dr. Jolene Brighten. With degrees in nutritional biochemistry, chemistry, clinical nutrition and a doctorate in naturopathic medicine, she has become a leading voice on the topic of hormonal birth control, post-birth control syndrome and balancing hormones through diet, lifestyle and supplementation.

This is by far the most comprehensive book on the topic of hormonal birth control and provides applicable and easy-to-follow information for any woman looking to better understand the effects of hormonal birth control, get off of hormonal birth control, control their current birth control symptoms, heal their post-birth control symptoms, understand what other birth control options area available and generally understand the female menstrual cycle and our unique hormonal processes.

Beyond the Pill is a book I would adamantly recommend to any woman. It has been life changing for me and so many others in my tribe of women and I know it will be for you as well.

Beyond the pill Chapter 1:

The Introduction of the Pill

The introduction of the pill was game changing for women. Female college enrollment and completion rates increased, women’s wages increased, more women were able to enter the workforce, women felt empowered over the newfound “control” over their bodies.

Despite these initial positives, women noticed significant side effects after going on the pill. These side effects were frequently dismissed by doctors as “all in your head” or were treated with additional medications.

At the end of the day, it became clear that women were willing to tolerate severe side effects in order to prevent pregnancy and maintain their sense of freedom.

beyond the pill chapter 1:

Overview of the Side Effects of The Pill

  • Hormonal confusion: missing or irregular periods, light or heavy periods, short cycles, infertility, headaches
  • Digestive problems: leaky gut, guy dysbiosis, inflammatory bowel disease
  • Energy reduction: fatigue, adrenal and thyroid dysfunction
  • Skin issues: hair loss, dry skin
  • Mood disorders: depression, anxiety
  • Sexual interference: low libido, vaginal dryness, chronic infection, pain with sex
  • Vitamin, mineral and antioxidant depletion
  • Weight gain
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Increased risk of auto-immune disease
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of thyroid and adrenal disorders
  • Increased risk of blood clots and stroke
  • Increased risk of breast, cervical and liver cancers
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Increased risk of Crohn’s disease (by 300%)

A study of over one million women found that the pill significantly affects mood and can lead to depression and the need for antidepressants.

beyond the pill chapter 1:

Why Are You On the pill?

More than ½ of women using the pill were prescribed it for non-contraceptive reasons. Why? Doctors treat birth control like the one stop shop for solving all of women’s menstrual related problems. Most common reasons women get on the pill:

  • Menstrual cramping or pain (31%)
  • Irregular periods (28%)
  • Acne, skin issues (14%)
  • Endometriosis (4%)
  • Unspecified hormonal issues (11%)
  • Other: headache, migraines, hair loss or abnormal hair growth, PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, depression and anxiety

Over 60% of women take the pill to relieve menstrual related symptoms. Doctors usually prescribe it as a treatment for symptoms without ever asking: What is the root cause of these symptoms?

Any symptom from the body is a sign of some internal imbalance that must be addressed in order to truly resolve the issue. When doctors prescribe the pill to treat the symptom, they are masking a bigger problem that will now continue to fester for years. Dr. Brighten urges women to seek a root-cause approach to treating their menstrual problems rather than using the “hormonal band-aid”.

beyond the pill chapter 1:

Post-Birth Control Syndrome (PBCS)

Hormonal birth control functions by disconnecting the communication between your brain and your ovaries (something your doctor probably neglected to tell you). Women who have been on some form of hormonal birth control, but especially the pill, will usually struggle with a slew of symptoms when they decide to get off of it. This is for two reasons:

  1. If you initially were on the pill to treat a symptom (like heavy bleeding) the root-cause of that symptom is still untreated and will need to be addressed
  2. The connection between your brain and your ovaries has been shut down for so long that it will take time to reestablish the communication channels
PBCS Symptoms Can Include:
  • Return of any previous symptoms before using birth control (headaches, heavy periods, PMS, acne)
  • Complete loss of period
  • First-time adult acne
  • Infertility
  • PCOS
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Gut dysfunction
  • Autoimmune symptoms
  • Hormonal irregularities

PCBS related symptoms can preset themselves anytime within the first 4-6 months after quitting the pill. Dr. Brighten further notes that these symptoms will not simply disappear. We need to take intentional steps to heal our bodies from any issues we had pre-birth control as well as any new issues that have arisen post-birth control.

beyond the pill chapter 1:

Dr. Brighten’s Pill Story


Dr. Brighten shares that she was on the pill for 10 years! She originally started it to be free of her extreme period symptoms which included heavy vomiting and over 7 day long periods. While her initial symptoms subsided, she found herself battling a new set of problems after starting the pill.

Dr. Brighten’s Pill Induced Symptoms:
  • Frequent crying
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Recurring yeast infections
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Became allergic to monistat from using it so much due to yeast infections
  • Ovarian cysts (which included multiple ER visits due to ruptured cysts)

She notes that her doctor never once mentioned these symptoms could be due to the pill. One doctor even recommended she have surgery to cut the nerves in her pelvis to relieve her of her pelvic pain. WHAT??

After 10 years Dr. Brighten quit the pill, only to be confronted with harsh PBCS:

  • No period at all
  • Adult acne
  • Uncontrollable rage
  • Heavy mood swings

She finally took matters into her own hands and used her own diet, lifestyle and supplemental protocols to heal herself of all her PBCS symptoms

beyond the pill chapter 1:

The 30-Day Brighten Program

This book includes a 30-day hormone reset program which addresses:

  • How to come off of hormonal birth control
  • How to heal the side effect and rebalance hormones with diet and lifestyle changes as well as targeted supplementation

Other topics covered throughout beyond the pill:

  • Facts about being on the pill and supporting you body while on it
  • How to reverse PBCS symptoms
  • How to get pregnant after the pill
  • How to achieve higher energy, stable mood and painless, regular periods
  • Major systems in the body that the pill effects
  • How to support natural detoxification through the liver
  • Diet that allows you to balance your hormones, heal the gut and reverse auto-immune disease
  • Supplements for any woman coming off the pill or what to take if you want to stay on it and reduce side effects
  • Tips to reset circadian rhythm, reduce stress and sleep better
  • How to eliminate PMS, weight gain and regain libido
  • How to boost fertility
  • How to reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart attack
  • Fertility awareness method

Beyond the Pill Chapter 1 ends with a hormone quiz that allows you to get a glimpse into some key hormonal imbalances you may be struggling with as well as what you can do right now to start addressing them. You can find links to multiple versions of her book as well as other related resources below!

Links to Other resources:

Beyond the Pill Chapter 1 Summary

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