Episode 141: The Pill Influences Mate Selection with Dr. Jolene Brighten
Welcome to Betty Bites. In this episode, we welcome Dr. Jolene Brighten. Jolene is a best-selling author and leading authority on women’s health and joins the podcast to share her experience in the field of hormonal birth control. As a prominent expert in women’s medicine and post-birth control syndrome, Dr. Jolene understands both the positive and negative effects hormonal contraceptives can have on women. In this episode, we discuss the effects on mate selection with the use of hormonal contraceptives.
If you would like to tune in to the full episode with Dr. Carrie Jones- click here. In the full episode together, Dr. Stephanie and Dr. Jolene talk about brain health, the bias that exists against women in the medical field, and vitality as it related to female physiology. Dr. Jolene references chapters from her latest book, Beyond the Pill. Finally, Dr. Jolene stresses the need for doctors to listen intently to their female patients, as women are the most in tune with their bodies.
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Dr. Jolene Brighten (00:47):
I have to say when I was reading some of these things, you know, well, I think first of all, I think that to your point, the public generally views hormonal contraceptive contraceptives as this benign intervention. But when I was reading about mate selection, I could not believe what I was reading. So let's just start. I want to, what I want to, what I would like to do is kind of walk through system by system in terms of how hormonal contraceptions can affect us. And I want to start with mates election because it is almost so outrageous. I will say, when it comes to mate selection and orgasm talk, that's where an, every man runs into the room to listen in. So here we go. Okay. Now here's the deal. First thing you have to understand is that you're an animal. And while we like to think we're super evolved humans, and we are in a lot of ways, we're still animals, which means that our sense of smell is still very, very important.
Dr. Jolene Brighten (01:42):
And in fact, this is how we select for mates. One of the ways that we select for me it's is by the pheromones that they put off now or the pheromones, just them smelling good baby, but really what's going on is that they're telling us about their genetics and their MHC complex, which is the major histocompatibility complex. So it's going to tell us about their immune system. Now, if you are not on birth control, you actually will select for a mate. Who's is genetically dislike you as possible. So not you not like you, not even in your family. And so what does that do? It gives our offspring basically a better shot at genetic variability. And so that the best genes, when now, when you're on hormonal birth control, you actually select for someone who's more similar to you. Like think your cousin genetically, which is about when everybody goes to you and it only gets worse because we're still we're still going to go down from there. Yeah. Sorry guys. But you know, what's really interesting about this. Okay. So women are selecting for men who are more genetically similar. They're also selecting for men who look more feminine. And so they did a study where they put these women in front of these screens, men and women's faces and they can manipulate them to make them as gorgeous as possible. So they're just like, how about it made him the sexiest beast you can. And I have Jason Mamoa and my mind, as I say that
Dr. Stephanie (03:07):
Aquaman, yes, man. Love him. Yeah.
Dr. Jolene Brighten (03:13):
Game of Thrones. Right? So with that, they then put women on hormonal birth control and had them come back three months later. And what they found is they manipulated the men's faces. So initially they made the men have these strong draws. They were like gassed on from beauty and the beast. And I use that because if anyone seen that he has a whole song dedicated to how manly he is and he is spot on. So that's how they first manipulated the faces. They come back now, they make them in more feminine. The jawline structure starts to change. They didn't do anything to women's faces, but they started to manipulate their potential mates to look more like women, unless like men, which is something where researchers are like, well, this might be why women on hormonal birth control. They actually select for men. What they prioritize, what they find is most important is not how attracted they are to them.
Dr. Jolene Brighten (04:04):
It is more about how much money do they make. Yes, men, you just heard that, right. She's a gold Digger. But it's not just about like how much money, but it's also how smart he is now. What does this translate to in modern society? This is the fittest of the species, right? So what we select for when we're not on birth control is that alpha male he's big, he's strong. He protects us. He smells delicious on birth control. We want the smart guy who earns money that is like modern society's way of selecting. And so it's almost like this artificial shift where we don't know inherently as the animals, we are, how we should be selecting for mates. And so we start overthinking like, okay, okay, let me think about who should I actually be selecting for. But what side about this is that when women come off of hormonal birth control, they can be at a higher risk of divorce and initiating the divorce.
Dr. Jolene Brighten (04:58):
They also then begin to prioritize how attractive they're made is. And well, hormonal birth control can Rob you of your libido. And we can certainly talk more about that when you come off of it, if you've selected your mate, while you were on it and you'll come off of it, you may report more sexual dissatisfaction. And what researchers believe is, is because you were never matched to begin with you never, where you had this chemical that was clouding, you know, does that mean you just say on it, because if you get off, you might get a divorce. That is why there are marriage counselors around the world. No, I don't think it has to end up that way, but I do think that there's going to be a process that you have to go to through. And I've seen this with patients where we go into merit, marriage counseling.
Dr. Jolene Brighten (05:38):
Sometimes they work with the sex therapist as well. And they start to work on this with the understanding of, I was under the influence of, of drugs. Right. I was under the influence. I was under the influence. Yeah. Yeah. And so in, not now that I've come off. Well, I'm feeling this disconnect. That doesn't mean that's just the way it is. Like our, well speaking, our biology can rule a lot and our hormones certainly do. It's not the end all be all. No. On the flip side with men, you know, men actually is so erotic dancers. I'm like, what is the PC word for stripper? And you guys just want to own that, that I'm like professional, maybe professional, professional dancer. I'm like, are you a ballerina? I don't know. Not a ballerina. Yeah. Yeah. So like exotic dancer, I thought about disrespecting anybody else.
Dr. Jolene Brighten (06:26):
What I'm trying to say, I'm trying in that though, if they're obviating, they get tipped more, they make more money. If they're out period, they make less. If they're on birth control, they make him money. And the, because men can actually pick up on these differences and that her hormones are on mute. She's not communicating to him in the same way. And so this is just a really important distinction because it goes both ways. Selection goes both ways. That's crazy. I know I could have written an entire chapter on this in my book, but there are things that had to get cut out guys. When I turned it in, it was a hundred thousand words and they were like, you have to cut at least 30,000 words. And so there was a lot that got cut out. And yeah, there's still so much, we don't know about women not sensing danger and risk in the same way and putting themselves in riskier situations while on hormonal birth control, these subtle changes that happen.
Dr. Jolene Brighten (07:20):
And we call them subtle because we really haven't studied them. We think they're subtle, but it may not just affect your mate. The may also affect how you interact with your child, with your sister, with your mother, with your community. And the truth is, is there's a whole lot. We don't know about hormonal birth controls influence over female behavior because the studies haven't been done. And in fact Dr. Elizabeth Kissling said in scientific American in 2019 that the use of hormonal birth control for menstrual suppression. So that is shutting down. Your period is the longest and largest uncontrolled medical experiment
Dr. Stephanie (07:58):
We've ever had. All right. Betty's if you found that that little snippet wet your appetite and you are looking for more, you can go to our show notes for this episode. And in the show notes, we will have a link for you to click on and it will bring you to the full, robust, juicy conversation.