Balanced Bites Podcast #409: Is This Normal? With Women’s Health Expert Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Explicit Episode #409: Dr. Brighten & Liz talk:

Is This Normal: Judgment-Free Straight Talk About Your Body

Body acceptance

Body “types” & health

Hormone balance, anatomy & libido – what’s normal?

Desire & pleasure

Sexual assault & libido

Medically accurate sex ed

Talking to kids about sexuality & consent

And WAY more.

Order Is This Normal: Judgment-Free Straight Talk About Your Body here:

Transcripts are automatically generated, so may not always accurately reflect the words/phrases used or the individuals speaking.

Welcome to the new Balanced Bites Podcast! I’m your host, Liz, a nutritional therapy practitioner and best selling author bringing you candid, up-front, myth-busting and thought-provoking conversations about food, fitness, and life. Remember:  The information in this podcast should not be considered personal, individual, or medical advice.

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[00:00:00] Liz Wolfe: Hi friends today. I am bringing you an interview with the incredible generous genius level powerhouse. That is Dr. Jolene Brighten. Now, if you don’t know Dr. Brighten, let me give a quick bio. Dr. Brighten is a board certified naturopathic endocrinologist. Clinical sexologist and prominent leader. 

Leader and women’s medicine. She’s also got a line of supplements by the way. Which are also fantastic. Dr. Brighten is a fierce patient advocate and she is completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances and anything else that’s affecting your health as a woman, and she’s considered a leading authority on women’s health. This is worldwide. She empowers women to take control of their health through her programs and her masterclasses. And of course, through her best selling books. So Dr. Brighton wrote healing the body naturally after childbirth and beyond the pill, which we talked about in episode 46 of my other podcast, Liz talks. [00:01:00] And her newest book is this normal release is April 4th, 2023. That’s right around the corner from this podcast air date. And by the way up until then you can pre-order and receive additional bonuses with your pre-order. By going to Dr. 

And by the way, It is always best to pre-order because not only does that help the author, but it helps the author in ways that further. And enables the author to help you. So when a book has that nice deluge of pre-orders, it enables them to make bestseller lists, which enables the publisher to print more, which creates more visibility around the message, what the author is doing. And all of that brings the return that anyone as impassioned as Dr. 

Brighten is. To reinvest in her people and her community. Again and again, I just cannot impress upon you the power of a pre-order. And if you know anything. About dr Brighten you know that she absolutely pours into her [00:02:00] community so i highly highly encourage you to go ahead and pre-order this book as soon as you listen to this podcast So today i’m talking to dr Brighten about a lot of things mostly centered around her new book is this normal And i have to give a few disclaimers and trigger warnings here so if you are near sensitive years you can take this opportunity to pause Put in headphones or whatever works best for you So here it is. This podcast is chock full of explicit content Once again if you haven’t paused yet or put in headphones now is your chance We talk sex sexuality anatomy You name it And we also need to give a trigger warning for content related to sexual assault and trauma so please gauge your consumption of this podcast Accordingly according to what’s best for you what you feel like you can handle and what you’re ready for and it is certainly not advisable for [00:03:00] children or young listeners With that let’s jump into my chat with dr jolene Brighton author of is this normal 

[00:03:07] Jolene Brighten: . It’s so funny cuz I was like, let’s call it what the sex ed teacher didn’t say. And then as I was like, oh yeah, people, and it’s just like all the questions I get from patients, from readers, from people on social media and um, yeah, my agent was like, yeah, but the thing everyone asked you is this normal?

And I was like, oh yeah. And she’s like, it should be, is this normal? This is, yes, this is why you’re my 

[00:03:30] Liz Wolfe: agent. You’re so smart. That’s brilliant, . This is why people like you exist. Okay, I get it now. 

[00:03:35] Jolene Brighten: Yeah. So, , the book covers you know, female anatomy, about like discharge, about sex, all types of sex libido, \ , hormones, your menstrual cycle.

Like it just really covers like, and it is really everything you should have gotten in sex ed. Yeah. Um, and you didn’t , so Yeah, I didn’t, but it’s for adult women. I’m always very clear about that cuz I have. Friends that are like, I can’t wait. I’m gonna get this to my [00:04:00] 12 year old. I was like, no, , we talk a lot about sex.

Like I don’t, I don’t, I don’t wanna talk to your 12 year old about sex. I’m talking to you. Okay. . 

[00:04:08] Liz Wolfe: Uh, this is just gonna be, I’m so excited for it. And partially, yeah, like selfishly, because like I told you the last one we recorded, , I’m approaching 40 and I feel like my journey of sexuality has been, just the retrospective on it , the way I handled it in my youth, and then like now as an adult, having been in this committed relationship, having been married for 12 years, what that looks like from a sexual perspective and just I’m, I’m just really excited for this book because I know selfishly I have a lot of questions.

Yeah. But I guess my question for you would be , what’s the most common Is this normal question you get? 

[00:04:48] Jolene Brighten: It’s, I feel like it’s always down there. Questions? Yeah. Of like, is is this normal? And whether it’s about my period, about my discharge, about the [00:05:00] way my labia looks. Yes. Oh my gosh. 

[00:05:03] Liz Wolfe: I was gonna say that because I just posted a story a couple weeks ago.

It was like a, some supermodel with those really tiny crotch, you know, they’re, they’re doing these swimsuits with these tiny, tiny crotches and I’m like, where did they put their labia? Where did they leave you? Go, ? Where did it 

[00:05:17] Jolene Brighten: go? Photoshopped. Um, there was like, I don’t know if it was like a Kardashian or a Jenner.

I don’t want. Actually understand who’s who and all of that. So sorry, people who watched that show. You can educate me, drop it in the comments, be like, yo, Liz, tell Dr. Wrighton . It was this one who did a swimsuit, uh, photo and the swimsuit was so clearly there was no anatomy. Yeah. For me. And like, you can’t be that close up and that tight and not see something.

Um, and yet why is that photoshopped out? Oh, well, because well, men will buy an actual pair of metal balls to hang from, you know, they’ve got these testicles hanging from their trucks and that’s cool to have those out. [00:06:00] Women are told you’re labia. Those should be hidden. Those are not Yes. Proper. Like even when they’re in your normal clothes.

And cameltoe is something we should like, be like cringing and make fun of. And it’s like cameltoe is normal. I actually had to cut that outta my book, um, because I turned into 140,000 words and they were like, that’s too much lot. That’s 

[00:06:19] Liz Wolfe: like a 400 page book. 

[00:06:22] Jolene Brighten: It’s a lot. It’s, I don’t even know how they’re gonna do it.

I’m just in awe. Like we just went, like, you know, I like just to see, I don’t physically have it in hand yet. Um, but I’m not kidding when I say like it was, it’s just everything that you should have been told in sex ed, but you weren’t. And it’s everything your mom should have been told so that she could tell you.

But hey, if you’re listening right now, , I had to cut that out. But camel toe is normal. It’s normal. It’s normal while you’re working out for your, you know, your thighs to rub together and, uh, every, everybody to align so that your clothing makes it way up into all of the [00:07:00] nooks and crannies that it can.

And that will produce a Campbell toe and that’s totally normal and not something you should be ashamed of. And also something that I always say, you know, like when people are like, oh, like I, I don’t wanna go to the pool and I haven’t, I’m shaved down there. Yeah. Um, if anybody is close enough or looking hard enough to notice, like.

Uh, they might need to be on a list. I don’t know, because like, that’s weird. Why are you scoping on other humans like that so hard? Right? That like, you could critique that part of their area, uh, their body. , so it’s always like, you know, it’s always. Down there questions. And I think that, , when can I get pregnant and how do I wash down there?

Because there’s so many myths around that are also really prevalent questions that I get. But the book is filled with so much. I mean, as I just said, it’s a giant book. And it is filled with. So much, , information of like every, everything that I just really wish one we were told ahead of time, but everything, and [00:08:00] namely it is women like in their thirties and older who are like, I have no idea how any of this works.

Yeah. And how have I lived in this body for so 

[00:08:07] Liz Wolfe: long? Right? We’ve been doing this for a while and all of a sudden it’s like, you know, not knowing and not understanding for the rest of my life is untenable. It’s not an option. So at some point we’ve gotta like dig in and actually get our questions answered, which is why I’m so excited about it.

I’m really interested in what you just said about pubes, because I was actually thinking about that this summer.

We live at a lake and so we have a beach. We’re in swimsuits all the time. And I was like, there’s this huge movement and you know, I, I try to play my part in it, this huge movement toward like, my body is my body. I don’t have to apologize for it. I don’t have to feel a certain way about it because anybody, you know, anti-d diet or pro diet tells me to, I feel the way about my body, that I feel about it, and that’s fine and I’m gonna wear the swimsuit and I’m gonna enjoy my life.

But one thing I thought about was, hey, I’m all about, you know, being out there and. Feeling good and whatever it is I’m wearing. But I was [00:09:00] really feeling some shame around having some errant pubes. And I was thinking to myself where, and, and I’m sure there’s a movement, I don’t know that it’s mainstream yet, but I sh I, I’m sure there’s a movement somewhere.

There’s a movement to keep your armpit hair I’ve seen, but I don’t see pubes 

[00:09:14] Jolene Brighten: anywhere yet. Oh no, it’s, it’s definitely out there. And it’s like, you know, it’s really interesting cuz you said like, whether it’s the anti-D diet or the diet people, this happened, like, everything about being a woman seems to be political.

Mm-hmm. to where it’s like, oh, if you, you know, don’t shave, then you are like sticking it to the man and you’re like anti, , whatever, , you know, establishment and, and pornography and all that. And if you do shave then you are, , you’re following the patriarchy. You’ve internalized misogyny and, , you, you are like, you’ve let porn influence you kind of rhetoric, and it’s like, why can’t I just like, want my body to be what it’s gonna be like?

Like what if I like, you know, the, I mean, so for me personally, like I shave my armpits and yeah. If I [00:10:00] don’t, I’m not gonna let that stop me from going to the pool with my kids. Mm-hmm. , like, that’s just kind of, of my thing. Same with like, you know, pubic hair down there, I’m.

I like it tended. That’s the way I like it. Same. Um, and yet if it’s not, I, like, younger me would’ve been like, I, I can’t wear a bathing suit. I have to just like wrap up. And me now I’m just like, well, it’s gonna be like unfortunate if somebody has an issue with this and catches it. I’m like, because like it is, it just is.

I’m not gonna let it really hinder my life. And so the point, and you know why I am talking about myself is just using someone as an example is to say that like, it’s really about do what you want, do what feels good for you, do it for you, but also don’t let these things keep you from living your life and living your best life.

And it’s, um, you know, as you, you’ve had kids, it’s very interest. because in early postpartum I was like, I just had a baby. [00:11:00] So I had a baby at 40 mm-hmm. . And I’m like, I just had a baby and I had a baby at 40. And that’s like, that’s miracle. Amazing. Yay. Like why celebrate that, , postpartum. And I just wore baby suits and I was like, this is just my body.

And it was like the first time I was like, not like, you know, , should I wrap my lower body? Because like, , like, so I had, , long haulers and I spent like good four months in bed and then I had pots for a while, so I couldn’t, I had it like for a long while, therefore, but I couldn’t exercise and so I like developed like my lower body doesn’t look the way, , it used to.

And I mm-hmm. the way I liked it to, and I have more cellulite and all of these things. And postpartum, I was like, I’m just gonna rock it, like whatever. And it felt so good. Yeah. And now my, you know, baby is no longer a baby. He’s turned 15 months and when it’s sneaking back in, it is like, well you are. You and bounced back, like you’re not like where you used to be.

And I am like, you may never be where you used to be. Mm-hmm. and I’m, I’m, [00:12:00] I’m like currently in the place where I’m processing that right now. Yeah. Like that tendency to want to cover up, to feel uncomfortable in a bathing institute. Um, you know, uh, like celebrate like my husband who like I put on a bathing suit, he’s like, that is the best thing I’ve ever seen on you.

Like, yes, I love this when I put it on and I’m in front of the mirror and I’m like, I dunno, I just don’t know right now. Um, and so to say that, um, if anybody, so I, you know, I’m, I’m in my, I’m 41. I’m further along on the journey. If anybody is earlier in their journey, know that Juan, there is a movement that’s making it a little easier for all of us.

But this, there is this like push and pull. I think that happens for a lot of your. Also normal. Also normal. And I think that really the skill isn’t to be like, oh, I never feel that I’m impermeable. The skill is to be like, I recognize that. I recognize it’s coming up mm-hmm. , and I’m gonna deal with it. Like, I’m not gonna just like be like, push that down or be ashamed or hide.

Like I’m, I’m gonna leave my life and I’m gonna deal with this. Like, and [00:13:00] that I think is really the, the game 

[00:13:01] Liz Wolfe: changer. you can be interested in what your thoughts are, curious about your thoughts. You can experience your thoughts, you can have them, but the meaning that you attach to them is what sets you down a path that can be just regulating and frustrating and prolonged versus just saying, oh yeah, I feel that way.

Totally normal. Like my body is very different now than it was before. And that takes them getting used to, it’s like, you know, this is probably the wrong analogy, because this can be for people who’ve had dramatic or even slight weight loss or just body composition shifts. But you know, I’m probably 20, 25 pounds heavier than I was before I got pregnant with my second, I had her right before I turned 39.

And if you had said, You know, it’s like you have a baby and you get used to the fact that you’re not, you don’t have that baby inside your body and all that you. amniotic fluid and all of that , but also like if you had said, here’s a 25 pound weight vest. Start walking around in it, it would’ve felt really like jarring and, you know, unsettling [00:14:00] and unfamiliar.

So it just, it just takes time to adjust to whatever it might be. And it’s very weird. There have been several times where I’ve put some clothes, uh, that I’ve been wearing up on Instagram, just like, Hey, I chose this. It’s a size extra large. . It’s, it’s just a, it’s two letters stuck together and I like it. Mm-hmm. , if we can stop attaching those really strong feelings to those things, then maybe we can, you know, navigate through it a little faster.


[00:14:24] Jolene Brighten: so well said. No, I think. That’s really important conversation because they think, you know, I talk about, I talk a bit about weight in the book, not from the perspective. More of it being a sign of hormonal issues. Hmm. So, you know what you should be looking out for, what you should be aware of. Um, but I think it’s just really important to understand that it’s one metric, right.

And it’s just one metric. And if that’s the only thing that your provider is measuring, they’re missing the whole picture. And if it’s the only thing that you’re watching for your health, I mean this, [00:15:00] we saw a lot of this talk during the pandemic where people are like, it’s your body size and it’s everything to do with it.

It’s like body composition does matter, but you don’t know somebody’s health by looking at them. Mm-hmm. . And you, you know, as a doctor, this is something that. It wasn’t where it was at in terms of like, how important is this data compared to the mental health, the mental load that it’s taking on people.

Um, but just to understand that there are people, That someone might look at and be like, they’re overweight. They’re, you know, they’re not the ideal body type. And yet, and I’m doing air quotes people for ideal body type. Right, right. I can’t see that. , and yet you do their cardiometabolic panel and you’re like, You, you look amazing.

Like your data looks amazing. Then they’ve got people that are, you know, rocking whatever the body type is of the moment, right? Like, because mm-hmm. in the like nineties, it was Kate Moss. Like we were all supposed to be like Kate Moss, like, I’m a [00:16:00] curvy Latina. I was never gonna be a Kate Moss. Like that was not gonna happen.

I have a booty. Like, when am I gonna do, I can’t, can’t change that. That’s genetics decided that. And then we, we’ve got now , the Kardashians, I don’t know, are they still in? Um, wow, I don’t know. Like Kim and Crew, you guys are making your wave with this podcast, um, , but like, you know, and then, then like being curvy is like celebrated and like that’s a thing.

And like, so one is like all of that changes you can have per whoever is the body type flavor of the moment. And then you can get their labs back and you can, you can see a very unhealthy person because the way you look in terms of your body. That doesn’t, that tells me very little, like if you are like got thinning hair, thinning eyebrows, dry skin, you’re really pale, you’ve got dark circles in your eyes, like you then, then I’m thinking like, are you anemic?

Do you have hypothyroidism? Like there are ways that you look that do give me information, but body composition alone, like just to look at it like, just to look at what your body looks like. It’s not enough. Yeah. Because we also know if we [00:17:00] measure some people like through, you know, like we actually doing true body composition measurements.

Some people are carrying a lot of muscle and bone and someone may have been like, they’re overweight, like, but actually their body composition is pretty stellar. Like mm-hmm. , it 

[00:17:17] Liz Wolfe: looks. Oftentimes when I have weight discussions with people, I, I mean, I shouldn’t do this. It’s dismissive, but I’ll also, I’ll say something like, I can lose 10 pounds gonna the bathroom in the morning.

Like, gimme a break. You know, like, , let’s, let’s just be pragmatic about this. I, okay, so you talked about hormones just a second ago. Can we talk really quickly, this is the first question that I, that I put in our interview questions, and I don’t wanna miss it because selfishly I wanna talk about it when we’re talking about hormone balance and weight.

What about hormone balance and libido? . 

[00:17:47] Jolene Brighten: Always a question that comes up. Right. And it’s, , like anything in a partnership, especially in a heterosexual partnership, it’s usually the woman’s fault, right? . Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , I’m thinking like fertility, how often [00:18:00] it’s like, oh yeah.

, you know, as somebody who, you know, is having babies older than life, we also have to look at my husband’s sperm. Like that’s a, that’s a part of the equation. But yeah, I think so often when libido issues come up, the first thing is to be like, it must be your hormones. Something’s wrong with your hormones, and your hormones do have a bearing , on your libido.

And when we’re talking about libido, I think, and I talk about this in my book, it’s a lot easier to understand. And the way I frame it to my patients is, desire. So libido Libi, I mean like, what is libido? It’s like, seems like this intangible thing, but desire is like, how much do you desire it? Mm-hmm. , how much are you, are, are you in for it?

And we know that through studies, on hormonal contraceptives, for example, if you’re on the pill, that’s a really good hormonal contraceptive for killing your libido. It’s, mm-hmm. , definitely one of the un side effects we’re not warned about for the others. You can go listen to the previous podcast that we did.

We talked a lot more about the pill, what we know from those studies that the pill is going [00:19:00] to decrease pr, testosterone production. And it’s gonna like just basically hold onto anything you make by increasing sex hormone, binding globulin, a protein that grabs on the testosterone. And so when , taking a pill, women lose their libido and it is linked to those testosterone levels.

There’s been one study, just one to my knowledge, so don’t go jump on this, um, where they have said, you know, we might wanna give women D H E A while they’re on the pill. D H E A is an adrenal hormone that can be used by the body to make testosterone or to make estrogen, , a little problematic with that, that might work.

Um, however, when, and, , I will say this is in the book, is this normal when inflammation goes up, you will increase aromatase, which takes your testosterone and converts it into estrogen. So I’m like, well, that’ll be interesting. Maybe it’ll help, maybe it will not. But because the impact of the libido is so notable, Now that that study was like, maybe we need to do [00:20:00] this intervention.

We also know, um, you know, later in life, especially like in menopause, when testosterone gets low, we can see libido changes, but it’s not always about hormones. And I think that’s really important to understand. And so little, it is a very rare occurrence in my office where the answer is just give someone like hormones or just fix their hormones and their libido is gonna come back.

Like they’ll, they’ll be in the mood again for whatever their partner is serving up. It’s way more complex than that. 

[00:20:32] Liz Wolfe: So would you agree that it could be, oh man, it’s just layer upon layer. I, I, and I’ll do this to myself. I’ll be like, well, I’m really tired. Well, I’m not ovulating usually I want it more when I’m ovulating.

And I talked about that in a really early podcast where I was like, can we normalize like being your horniest when you are ovulating? Doesn’t that just make sense? But then I layer on top of that , I don’t know. We don’t have the village anymore. It’s like, maybe I wouldn’t be so exhausted if I could have just sent my kids out the door for [00:21:00] a couple of hours and maybe we could have, you know, gotten it done in the middle of the day there’s just so 

[00:21:05] Jolene Brighten: many, middle of the day suck. Seems so much easier when you have kids for morning . Yes. 

[00:21:10] Liz Wolfe: And then it’s like you can go to bed and not feel like this weird sense of obligation, you know? 

[00:21:16] Jolene Brighten: Oh, obligation. 

[00:21:17] Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Yes, yes. It’s funny too, because now I have a seven year old and it’s like, I know, and our rooms are right across the hall from each other, and I’m like, you know, she’s at that age where one day she’s gonna be standing right outside the door, so it’s like, well, we better take it into the closet

Like, there’s just so many things to think about and it’s not just hormones, right? Yeah. So it’s all of 

[00:21:37] Jolene Brighten: those. Yeah. Okay. So I love that you brought like, obligation is a big killer of desire. I’m one of those people. I will not, I’m like, I’m not having sex on Valentine’s Day because I feel the pressure of it, like the trust of it.

Like, um, stay with like my anniversary. I’m like, no, if I, if you’re telling me I, it’s part of me is like, I feel like, am I just a rebel? Um, and [00:22:00] then I get into the research and I’m like, no, in fact, this is normal. Um, and what you’re, what you’re talking about is all normal and it’s exactly, I think what is important to understand.

And I have a whole chapter like dedicated to desire. I have a whole chapter dedicated to just orgasms and understanding all of that. Um, and so to understand that especially for women, uh, there are a lot of things that influence why we actually want to have sex and what can actually help us get there.

And so, you know, it’s important to understand. There’s, so I’m like trying to think like, what’s the best way? You said so many great things and I’m like, which one do I wanna start with first? So it’s 

[00:22:44] Liz Wolfe: hard to say a 

[00:22:44] Jolene Brighten: lot of things . It’s great, it’s great, but first, like it’s totally normal if you are, um, you know, you feel any kind of pressure to not want to have sex.

And in fact, um, I talk about this in the book and as part of the program, if you are one of those people, I [00:23:00] actually give an exercise of like, just don’t have sex. Just be like anything is on the table. But having sex, which sounds like crazy, um, but to say to your partner, I feel like you like being chased and pursued and pressure to have sex, say.

And by the way, they’re not doing anything evil or nefarious. It’s just like a mismatch in desires often. And we’re gonna talk about that. But if, if you’re chasing me and you’re pursuing me, like, and people can’t see my hands, but like I’m running my one hand is chasing the other hand running. I’m gonna, it’s, I’m gonna be less inclined to want to engage in having sex, even though my brain’s like this could be good.

It could feel really good. Like I can logically talk about it. Like there’s other signals coming in, saying, no, thank you. Yeah. And so with that, doing an exercise where you essentially are like, we can, we’re, we’re gonna make an agreement. We’re not having sex. Like there will be, and by the way, what is.

Whatever you define it to me, like sex is a lot of things, and I talk [00:24:00] about this in the book, there’s outercourse, there’s intercourse, there’s anal, sexist, oral sex. Like there’s just like, there’s dry humping, like all of these things. , they are those 

[00:24:09] Liz Wolfe: sex. Why’d that make me giggle When you said dry humping 

[00:24:13] Jolene Brighten: because like, that’s like teenager, you right?

[00:24:17] Liz Wolfe: It’s like best years of my life. 

[00:24:20] Jolene Brighten: So normal to do that. Like right. The um, the things of our youth to be like giggle, like are Yeah. It’s so normal. Um, so anyhow, the, so you just say like there will be usually the thing that most people are in a heterosexual relationship or defining a sex is vaginal sex.

Right? Intercourse. Um, that’s not gonna happen. It’s not on the table. We can do anything else like, but there is gonna be no genital. No general touching, um, that actually can build desire and make less of that chasing and pursuing happen and make it to where the person who’s feeling pursued feels like, now I can just [00:25:00] relax.

There’s none of that pressure there. And then you make the agreement of like, what, when is that gonna come back? Um, people might be there, there are some I’ve had patience actually say like, oh, I can’t deprive my husband of sex. Um, that’s not right. You’re not that you’re, you’re, you’re actually giving him more, more variety in the pleasure arena.

What you’re talking about is that it’s not okay for you to be like, this isn’t good for me, but I still have to do it for you. Right. Um, where instead it’s like, this is how we make it pleasurable and we’re still pleasure.

And the end goal doesn’t always have to be intercourse because spoiler. Majority women don’t even orgasm when they’re just having penetrative sex. When they’re just having intercourse. And so that is just something to recognize that I think the conversation needs to broaden too. Pleasure. Mm-hmm. . And not just sex.

Because the way most sex is defined is, at least in a heteronormative relationship, is just the penis goes in the vagina. Yeah. And that actually can [00:26:00] get really boring over time as well, which is like a different, conversation. So this is actually something that can really help build, , the relationship.

But as I talked about with the mismatch of desire, so, , in my book, I, I go on to talk about responsive desire and spontaneous desire. I actually give you a quiz about like, you know, and it’s, it’s, it is not like this is, I should say that like this is all research. Somebody else did the research. Okay. I’m just like pulling it in for you.

These are not my original thoughts. Even this quiz is a really well-known quiz. , if you read like sexual health books about desire in libido, you probably take a quiz like this because it’s a really, really useful tool and it really helps you to understand like how, like inhibited am I not in a negative way, but.

Like, what’s a turnoff, right? We often think of things as a turnoff and turn on. Um, your kids might walk into you. Huge turnoff. Huge turnoff. In fact, a lot of [00:27:00] people will experience like that have, you know, that are higher on the, you know, inhibition scale. They are going to like, not be in the mood and they are not aroused and everything.

You shut down if there is a fear that someone might hear them, not that even small eyes who you burst and brought into this world and now you’ve gotta have a conversation with them about it, right? Like, that’s the next level. But if somebody might just hear you, anybody might just hear you. That can be, that can inhibit.

Um, and so to understand that like there is, you know, almost like this archetype, and it can also fluctuate with your menstrual cycle. But you know, to explain, you know, there’s responsive and then there’s a spontaneous desire. And spontaneous desire is what you see everywhere in the media, everywhere.

Every movie telling you that, oh my gosh. He just like gave her the look and then they were doing it and it was like on, and she orgasmed like two minutes [00:28:00] later. Yeah, right. . Yeah, right. Like sometimes yes, sometimes it does work that way. But you know, the clitoris. You know, so if people don’t understand under this or know this from biology, the, the penis is a different version of the clitoris.

Um, in fact, all of the male genitalia, it wanted to be us, but then testosterone came in and it, it differentiated, it became something different. So if you can recognize that a penis becomes engorged and erect, if people could only see my hand movements right now, , 

[00:28:31] Liz Wolfe: it’s only, what is this? 

[00:28:32] Jolene Brighten: Penis? It’s like a robot penis , um,

But the clitoris is the same. And so the clitoris needs time to get warmed up and engorged and. And there’s, you know, a lot more to it. So just to understand that like if you are someone that’s like, I’ve had that kind of sex, great, but the fact that we are like that is the sex that you should be having to, everyone really doesn’t work that way.

Yeah. It can be that way early in relationships, right? When it’s [00:29:00] like everything’s new and fresh and Yes. , it can, so when you are, when you are, , nearing ovulation, your hormones are shifting. So you may find that there’s less inhibition. So in the book I talk about it the same way the researchers talk about it, which is, you know, gas pedals and breaks.

And so basically around ovulation, your brakes may be less touchy, , and it may be easier to disengage them, which means the gas pedals, which are the stimulations that get you in the mood. Those can be received better by the brain. And so yes, let’s normalize the yes it. That is a normal time to fill more in the mood.

Also being on your period is the time to fill more in the mood. And we can talk more about like what’s happening with hormones and everything around that. But I think it’s just really important for everyone to understand that. Just because you’re not in the mood all the time or you know, you’re not always like [00:30:00] interested when your, when your partner tries to engage, doesn’t mean there’s necessarily something wrong with you or something wrong with your relationship.

You may have more of the responsive desire archetype, which is to say that you need your, your partner to engage a little more in, you know, in ways that might not be sexual. So that might be helping change the context of your day. So, you’re right, we don’t have a village. Change the context of your day so that you’ve got less stress on your plate.

Someone did take the kids like you don’t have your mind filled with all of these things to do. They don’t do the annoying thing like leaving. I tell, I tell the story about a. And her husband always leaving her clothes, their clothes on the floor. And then that’s occupying her mental space like, and so by the time he comes to her and he is like trying to kiss her on the neck, which really is the thing that can do it for her, she can’t even receive that.

Her brain can’t even receive it [00:31:00] because the context is not right. She’s stressed. Like there’s all this other stuff going on and if you are someone with responsive desire, it may take you time to get there. So I don’t, I’m not a fan of like schedule sex out of obligation, but if you do have a responsive desire, you may need to schedule sex out of like, I am gonna block off this time.

And you know, I think sometimes, when we were like, oh, but I’m so tired, kind of thing, reminding ourselves, but like, the orgasm is so good. Mm-hmm. , or like, there’s like, but that’s not only why women wanna have sex, they also wanna bond. They want to, , feel closer, you know, to their partner overall, which is, you know, arguably bonding, but that like the actual physical feeling, closeness, , to their partner.

And they, there’s also the recognizing that there is a lot of hormonal benefits and also stress relief benefits, things like that, that can come out of engaging with someone and, and having that time [00:32:00] separately. But if you have responsive desire, . And I like to say like sometimes, you’ve gotta like, you’ve obviously gotta get it going to get there.

Like you aren’t gonna desire it until things get going. And it could take like 20 minutes for there to be stimulation for everything taking place for then everything to kick in. And now you’re like, yes, now I want this. What you’re recognizing as desire, which is what, you know, what you have seen in like the media is like, yes, now it’s hot.

Now I want it. But to understand that like, there’s nothing wrong with you if, if this is, if this is who you are, if you’re different than what you’re seeing in the media. And as I talk about in the book, I wish that my patients were told early on in life that it’s your desire, that’s your libido, is the metric to measure.

Ha. Because people come to me and they’re like, I have a low libido. It’s always been this way. Okay, tell me more about that. [00:33:00] And I have to say that, , a lot of times, , going through sex, , clinical sexology training that I have, it’s so interesting. That, I was taught about this, and then I actually employed it and it actually works that so often, just giving people permission is all they need to actually feel like they fixed the problem.

Mm-hmm. And that’s really what I wanna encourage everybody listening to do, is that if you, if you’re like, oh, it’s always been low, but you know, it’s, I still enjoy psychs, I still engage with my partner, like all of these things like, you’re not broken. This is you, and like be you and here’s some tools for that.

And to know that if you are the person who is like, Always in the mood. You are the pursuer. You are someone who’s like, I would’ve sex every day, multiple times a day if I could. That’s you, you are normal. You’re not like, you’re not a sex addict or any, any kind of bad thing that you might be stigmatized.

It’s you. And to recognize [00:34:00] that you might have a partner that’s different. You probably do. If you both were matched like that, you’d never leave the house or get anything done. like, how can you parent, how can you even parent? You cannot adult , like if that’s you. And because like if anyone’s been in a new romance that where things are like that and you, and you’re like, we spent a week in bed, like, yeah, that’s not sustainable.

Right? Um, and so I think, you know, those are things that get put up on pedestals and to understand that like, you know, it’s, it’s normal to have a mismatch with your partner and then it’s just a matter of communicating and working that out between you two. I shared like so much information in there, um,


[00:34:40] Liz Wolfe: And I was making notes of so many millions of thoughts that I had as you were speaking. I mean everything from all the layers that we talked about originally or earlier on where, you know, we were talking about our bodies and how they change and how that can kind of change your mental state around sex.

Because I was thinking, you know, when I was really young and doing a lot of dry humping, I’m sorry, I [00:35:00] swore I would never talk about this stuff. I’m sorry mom, I’m sorry dad, if you’re listening to this, I’ll, I’ll give a disclaimer when I record the introduction to it.

But when I was young and you know, , 

[00:35:09] Jolene Brighten: I just love that , this stuff like, I don’t know if you noticed when we were recording our last podcast, my um, Soon to be 10 year old was, um, in the, he was just, he just si is just gonna come in. I did, I saw lay on the floor or whatever, and I’m like, all right, let’s stop periods.

let’s go. 

[00:35:30] Liz Wolfe: You’re gonna hear about it sooner or later. It should be in this format, I think. Yeah, well, 

[00:35:35] Jolene Brighten: so, oh, he’s heard it a lot. Don’t 

[00:35:36] Liz Wolfe: worry that. Ha, that is a great thing. I mean, I’m trying to figure out, I, I figured I would always just wait until my seven year old came to me with some questions, but I don’t think that is a good approach.

So now I’m trying to like sneak stuff like this into like different moments in our day. Like, well, I have my period right now, some, you know, and so then she asks a question and so then we engage in a conversation that feels like a much healthier way to do it than maybe my [00:36:00] parents’ generation and how maybe the generations before that had these.

Quote unquote talk. If you could see my hands now I’m doing ear quotes. Yeah. And I was thinking 

[00:36:08] Jolene Brighten: about when I was, which now makes much younger. Be like, uh, don’t listen to me. Talk about dry humping Mom and dad . 

[00:36:13] Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Mom, just turn it off. I’ll, I’ll put a disclaimer at the very beginning, specifically for my parents to, hopefully they’re not still listening.

At the very beginning when I was first like exploring my sexuality and all of that, you know, I was probably, I, you know, beautiful and horny, but also, I have a lot of memories around, you know, borderline assaults to be very frank. Mm-hmm. , some of my very early experiences probably are worthy of therapy at this point, and I imagine that they also inform, you know, I went from kind of treating my body as something that existed to please other people, to being in this relationship with my husband, who was one of the most like sensitive, caring, thoughtful, responsive men I’ve ever met.

And then trying to translate all those early experiences into this [00:37:00] relationship where the baggage is entirely, I mean, there’s baggage, but it’s not the same baggage. And so all of those layers kind of affecting libido and orgasm and all of that stuff and navigating that with him has actually been really cool to be able to sort of deconstruct some of that and have a communicative, intimate, like true.

But it’s always a work in progress. And sometimes I think about, you know, you talk about getting in a rut or you talk about, I don’t know, it’s, there’s a movie, I can’t remember if it’s knocked up or this is 40, but it’s Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. And he’s like, so should we have sex tonight? And she’s like, Ugh, I’m just really constipated.

And it’s like, . So true. Right? . 

[00:37:41] Jolene Brighten: Oh, but I love Paul Rudd. I do. He’s 

[00:37:43] Liz Wolfe: from my city. He’s from Kansas City. He comes to like football games and stuff here. My sister used to see him when she worked with the Chiefs. Call me in Kansas City on, come on Dan. I’d be like, take, take a picture of him. 

[00:37:53] Jolene Brighten: He’s so funny. Every time I see something I’m like, like if him like in the wild.

And I’m like, this guy’s so funny. He’s so funny. Hang out with [00:38:00] funny people. Um, so Paul Rud, if you’re listening, let’s take it. Yeah, come on . Anyhow. \ , so, uh, I do wanna talk about like, so the point of sexual assault. Yeah. Like, I think there’s many of us that are entering at our age now, realizing. We were actually sexually assaulted.

Yes. And I mean, I, this is something I came to terms with a few years ago. , and if you listen to the last podcast, you knew I talked about being in therapy. And this is one of the things that I was like, Man, like I don’t wanna give Lee, I don’t wanna say like too much because I’m like, if these people hear it, I don’t, I just don’t want anyone entering back into my space, like stay outta my orbit.

That would be the best. , yeah, but just re recognizing ways that I absolutely was like, why did my parents not protect me? Why was this allowed to happen? And, , that I like, thought it was all my fault? Like all that kind of stuff. You have got to work through that, that absolutely. How can it not squash like we’re talking about, oh, it’s gonna squash your libido, your sexual desire.

That seems like just like [00:39:00] such a trivial thing compared to all the other ways it impacts your life. And yet it is something and I, um, we should put it like a trigger warning at the beginning of this. Yeah, I’ll about sexual assault because we are talking about it. . In my book, I do talk about that, that like, that your, your experience matters.

If your experience with sex is that it has been scary or things have been done without your consent. I talk about consent in the book and understanding what it is and what it is not. Um, if your experience is that it’s just not good. If it hurts, I have a whole bunch of talk about painless sex because no, you’re not what organism wants to mo like do something that I know is painful.

No. If it hurts, you’ve got to address that piece as well. Um, but certainly like if there is a history of sexual assault and you’re like, oh, I have a low libido. I need to fix that. And you haven’t like shined, shown the light on that yet. 

You, you need to work through it. That is more priority for your [00:40:00] overall health and your body, not just your libido. Mm-hmm. and working with your trauma informs counselor. I think is super, super important, , because you want someone informed. I also think you should not see anyone for a pap smear who is not a trauma informed provider, because that is another place that can really bring up, , really bring up trauma.

I, I, I think in those providers offices, they, you know, the people who are not informed, they can do a lot of harm unknowingly. And then there’s also providers when they’re not informed, um, they do things that are traumatic. I mean, I’ve had traumatic pap smears and it’s not helpful. Well, it’s not helping anybody.

So just being aware that. One, you’re not alone. And two, it is an area that it can impact your sexual desire, it can impact your sexual health, which the World Health Organization is like. Sexual health is health. It is an important part of health. So it is very, very [00:41:00] important. But to understand that these things that weigh on us, they’re impacting our health in ways that we probably don’t even recognize.

So I think it’s great that you’re able to, you know, move through that with your partner. And I think it’s just, it’s a really important conversation for us to have because again, it is so many layers and it is so there’s so many things that can impact your desire for sex. Um, there was something else that you said in that, that I like.

Oh, the body image stuff. Mm-hmm. If you want to just think your way away from an orgasm, if you wanna think your way out of all pleasure, think about is my body weird? Are my labia too long? Uh, is the, like, is it normal that like my anus is darker than the rest of my skin and that so is my labia? Yes, there’s concentrated melanocytes there.

They should be that way. It’s 100% normal, but some celebrity is bleaching their butthole and telling you it’s not like, [00:42:00] what is that, uh, ? I’m like, and whoever told them it wasn’t normal. It is normal. It’s totally normal. But we don’t, so, so funny enough is that, um, while pornography is like usually of the hairless variety and actually has a lot, uh, more variety and representation of the spectrum of normal, Than medical textbooks, which is kind of crazy.

Wow. Yeah, and I never really thought about it until I started, like I started writing this book and pulling up images and it’s like, here is this like sometimes hairless, sometimes hairless, uh, because like you need to, you need to see it, right? You need to see the anatomical structures, but it’s always pink and uniform and color.

So what is that? That’s just a white body and only one variety of white body, but also not even totally representative of a white body because mm-hmm. , everybody has melanin. And it might not be that, you know, it’s brown down [00:43:00] there. It might be that it’s like more mahogany or different shade of pink and, um, that it’s not uniform in color.

Um, the labia menorah, you know, we’ve got. Uh, big push now for like, labioplasty and like, yeah. Oh, oh, you know what’s so gross? Is the, um, the, the, like they even termed it the Barbie procedure. Oh. Um, the fact that they called it that I just find is like, just disturbing cuz Barbie doesn’t even have genitals and they, like, there are some, cosmetic surgeons, not even plastic surgeons, who I see putting out this information and they’re like, you can have the perfect labia and have it tucked in and this is what’s the most beautiful and it will make your sex life better and all this stuff.

And I’m like, that’s like, there’s no evidence to support that. In fact, it may you, this person may not understand where your clitoris is and cut it off like this is like, or do damage like, and they’re like, Ooh, take away this and that. And as. is if it doesn’t have an impact mm-hmm. , [00:44:00] because there’s all these nerves and everything down there.

Um, but the fact that the message is, is that you should look like a plastic barbie. I was like, what? What, uh, that is? Yeah. Like down there basically, uh, there’s no genitals, right? Yeah. There’s nothing down there.

Yeah. Um, so I. You know, we have a lot of messaging about our bodies in a lot of ways. We don’t actually see things that are normal. \ , by the way I came across, , cuz the people are like, how does she know this about porn? Has she been like mass consuming porn ? , no. I have a real fear of computer vi viruses.

My husband knows this. Every time something goes wrong on my computer, I’m like, I’m being hacked . I’m like, so I’m always like, I dunno. But I’ll say if you do wanna watch, , porn, know that there are, you can Google this. Just ethical companies out there that are paying fair wages that treat their, treat.

The, the, I don’t know if there the stars actors really well, like there, there is that genre, but I actually was just looking at surveys that [00:45:00] were coming out about. What’s the most desirable? What are people watching? What is an understanding that there are people that are seeking out longer labia menorahs, or they voted this is the best vagina and vulva on the internet.

, you know, or in that space and that it was not the Barbie. It was not the Barbie. So just looking at the data of things and realizing that like, because the, what people desire is such a wide range, that this is what’s been offered up. And I, I say this because I think so often people are like everything bad.

Every negative message about sex that women have is coming from porn. It’s, it’s actually from the research and what we see, it’s actually not mm-hmm. . And we can look around at the fact that, , you know, there’s these bodies being photoshopped and put in front of us that there are these surgeries that are being, you know, we’re being shamed into having these [00:46:00] surgeries.

Um, and that there’s just, we don’t talk about a lot of this, right? Yeah. There’s also hundreds of, on, hundreds of derogatory ways to describe female genitalia that then makes you feel like, oh, something, something must be wrong with me. And all of this. And this is a major desire killer if we are feeling insecure about our body, especially anything that is covered up by clothes, those areas.

We are going to have a harder time wanting to have sex, wanting to get naked in front of somebody. Um, you know, uh, not like how can you be present? By the way, you have to be present. It is an act of mindfulness. To have an orgasm, you have to be present, you have to be in your body, you have to be connected.

But if you’re all up in your head worrying about even things like, is it taking me too long to get there? Mm-hmm. like that can totally kill all, all the fires just been put out all together and [00:47:00] it’s completely normal that you would go down that pathway in your mind, and it’s completely normal that that would, can kill your desire.

And so what we need to do is we need to back it up and we need to recognize that, I mean the, I like to say this to my patients, like even the, , if you are in a heterosexual relationship, like most men, They’re just so excited and lucky to even see you naked. Like they really are. Yeah. Yeah. , and, and you talk to men and like they don’t even notice the se like, we spend so much time with our body, we notice so much more.

This is why I’m like, you’re such important data for your doctor, like to share your experience. , and yet most men don’t even, they don’t even like put, you’re like, oh, but I have this like dimple of cellulite. Mm-hmm. , they’re like mm-hmm. . I just saw booty. Like, that’s, that’s all I saw. . Like, this is not like a problem to me.

Like you’re making it a problem. Yeah. , but I think, you know, to your point about our younger selves, ugh, I’m totally like guilty of it. Of putting someone else’s pleasure first. Yeah. , which is , I’m [00:48:00] cur I wanna hear about like what your sex ed experience is because you know, in what you were saying about, I.

In the US we are taught it, it male-centered sex ed. It’s our body. But what is our body? It’s receptacle for a penis. Mm. Cause we make babies. Right. That’s, that’s how that works. And so in a lot of people I have met with and talked with that, that’s been their messaging. And I, it’s a, it’s sounding to me that I think most of us haven’t even realized that the education that we got was more sa centered on gosh, I think it’s only 11 states right now that have any talk of consent in their, in their program. Mm-hmm. . Um, which is concerning because as you were talking about with your daughter, I mean, that’s one of the conversations. I have a 15 month old, he’s already learning consent.

this is something like my sons are learning from day one. This is about protecting their body. This is about their, their, you know, body is a sacred space. [00:49:00] That’s all important. Uh, it’s also something that we are currently live in an entire society that’s gonna tell them that they have a right to things that they absolutely do not have a right to.

So they need to be learning consent. It 

[00:49:11] Liz Wolfe: does feel like from the perspective of how we’re educated, I live in the Midwest, so I live in Kansas and in general, , I live in quote unquote the city, like the big city of Kansas, Kansas City area. So that’s kind of a more liberal, , less conservative area, but on a hold.

The state of Kansas is pretty conservative and I have friends across the political spectrum. And again, a lot of times this comes back to politics and I hate that it does, but you know, it’s a frank word. I hate that 

[00:49:36] Jolene Brighten: women’s health is, hate it. It’s always 

[00:49:37] Liz Wolfe: political. always, it really does bother me.

Especially, you know, now we just see it over and over and over again, but, I think it would probably be accurate to say that for the most part, it is a conservative viewpoint to discuss sex in a more male dominated way. [00:50:00] And let me say, I have certain elements of my belief system that probably lean conservative and many, many that lean liberal progressive.

I am a, I am large, I contain multitudes. So you know, this is not coming from anywhere political or in any way, meaning to like be insulting to somebody for their belief systems. But I find that when you are coming from a more biblical perspective, which where I live tends to also dovetail with a conservative political perspective, you find that it is more of that.

Male dominated, patriarchal thing. However, having been educated around sex in a more progressive way myself, it still by default translated that way to me because there was not any explicit, explicit, that’s kind of a pun there, but any explicit. , explicit education around consent, around the power of women, around the matriarchy, or whatever you wanna call it, because the person that is being [00:51:00] penetrated is always the one that feels like they’re kind of subverted, that they are, you know, less than, or they’re receptacle.

It just kind of defines itself that way in some ways, unless there is a more detailed conversation around the nuances of sexuality and of consent and of giving and receiving and all of that. So even though I wasn’t necessarily raised or educated in a conservative way , I still find that.

My assumptions around sex were probably defined by this idea of a woman as a receptacle or of a woman as there for a male’s pleasure. Mm-hmm. Or even this idea that sex is power can so easily be flipped to. You’re doing everything that somebody wants you to do because you want them to like you. Yeah.

And somehow that feels like power. So that’s kind of the memory I have. I don’t know if that translates, but 

[00:51:49] Jolene Brighten: Yeah. Well I think a lot of people have that experience. And you know what’s interesting for you to talk about the religious perspective and like, just for everyone listening, I don’t care what your political or [00:52:00] religious mm-hmm.

Beliefs are. I’m here to present you the science and you’re gonna take it and you’re gonna do with it what you want. And I respect that. Yeah. So, but it, what’s interesting about what you were saying about being a receptacle, Being subservient and coming back to the religious piece is that there was a time where the Catholic church was like, it can be nothing but missionary because anything that’s not missionary confuses, if not challenges, basically the gender norms.

Oh my. So basically you must lay on your back and that is the only way that we can do this. Because anything else, if a woman was on top, she’s dominating, but is she like, and, and you know, I just wanna say we are talking about heterosexual relationships because that’s a lot of what has been legislated on in terms of, um, you know, sex ed up until recent years.

Now we are seeing more [00:53:00] inclusivity even though we’re, we’re not even nearly there yet. But to understand, like, and that’s just where I’m like, bring it back to pleasure. and where, you know, we talk about like, you know, you said the patriarchy again, and we talked about this in the previous episode, where people are like, oh, the patriarchy is the way that women hate on men.

And it’s not, the patriarchy hates on everybody because with the patriarchy, what it was doing right there was saying like, you know, this is the only way that you can have sex. Oh my goodness. But there’s like so much else you could be doing. And if we put pleasure into the conversation, I think that could go a really long way in everybody’s life, um, and really start to shift things and have a different perspective.

Also, when we understand that that position is one of the least probable ways that a woman is going to orgasm, most women do not orgasm without clitoral stimulation. And if you recognize that the penis. DR is derived from the clitoral tissue [00:54:00] and you know that a man cannot orgasm without penal, uh, penile stimulation, by the way.

Like there is like, let me just say, lots of people can get there lots of different ways. . Mm-hmm. . But when it comes to the female orgasm, , the clitoris is like the most dominant pathway when it comes to the nail orgasm. The penis is the most dominant pathway. I mean, that’s, that’s what we see in terms of stimulation.

And if we can accept that the penis has to be stimulated for Amanda to have pleasure, then we can accept that the clitoris. Must have to be stimulated in order to have pleasure and why you might be like, why are you even making this argument? Because Freud messed up everything and went out and told everybody that like, ACLU orgasm is, is juvenile, basically that’s childlike.

Like the, the, the, you know, superior orgasm is the vaginal orgasm. And I’m like, that’s very self-serving serve, that’s very self-serving for you to say that. , and so a lot of people have believed that [00:55:00] or like, and it’s also become a thing where, , in can some women, , orgasm just from vaginal and course, uh, yeah, they exist, they are much more rare than the woman who needs clitoral stimulation.

Like far more rare. And there’s an argument to be made now that we finally understand that the clitoris is not an external structure. It is both external and internal. That that vaginal stimulation is actually stimulating the, the clitoral compact plex that is inside. Um, And so I think it’s just important that we understand that piece.

And then we also understand that like the US is very, I don’t love that people aren’t getting the information they need, but I do love that they have done what they’ve done in the US and then they have done what they have done in Germany and the Netherlands, where like they have a very different way of teaching.

And why do I love that? Because we’ve got these different models and we can see what is working and what is not. So in the US we’ve got a ton of states and I go [00:56:00] through all these things in the book of like who, , who is, you know, teaching consent, who, , and I don’t break it down by state. By state. You could Google that.

That’s boring. I’m not gonna put that . So when I say it’s 140 words, it’s good stuff. Okay. . It’s not just like, you could Google this, but I talk about like, The fact that in the US there’s a lot of abstinence only education. There is no real talk about pleasure. Consent is given very little, , details and all of that.

And what we see in the US is that there are a lot of us, you, me, people who are listening who are not satisfied by their early sexual encounters, they feel taken advantage of. They regret like when they had sex. , we also see higher teen pregnancies, Germany. , the US is three times above Germany and Germany.

, is teaching like an all encompassed sex ed. It’s it’s mandated. , since like 1994 it was, , that there must be sex ed. There’s no federal mandate in the US that [00:57:00] you must have medically accurate sex ed. Let me be clear. , there’s only a, like, you know, less than half the states are offering medically accurate sex education in in whole.

If it is not medically accurate, it is not accurate. That’s it. If it is not medically accurate, it is not scientifically based. It’s an opinion. It is somebody else’s agenda about your body. And what we see from that is we’ve got higher STIs and higher teen pregnancies and people who are regretting the sexual encounters that they’ve had, and people that you know, quite frankly are dissatisfied with their sex life.

And people who are some things in their sixties and seventies contacting me because they don’t understand like how these basic things work. That to me, It’s a right, that’s their right to understand these things about their body. And then we look at, like in the Netherlands, they, so I actually went there with my [00:58:00] son.

I went to this great science museum, , and like on, we got to the third floor and we didn’t know, we had no the human body part. And we’re like, cool, like let’s go look at skulls. And then it was like this whole video about going through puberty. And then there was actual male and female genitalia, the whole reproductive system of cadavers, like isolated.

And we looked at that it was so cool to be able to like show my son that and , he’s nine. There were times where he was like, this is weird mom. I’m like, it’s okay to be uncomfortable and weird. Do you wanna, do you want me to answer questions? Do you wanna keep moving on? Sometimes it was move on.

Sometimes it was like, okay, this is what’s weird about this. , let’s talk about it kind of situation. Yeah. , their, their teens tend to talk to their parents before they have a sexual encounter. It tends to be older. When they have a sexual encounter, they tend to have more monogamous relationships.

That is like, , in terms of sexual partners, they really [00:59:00] cultivate a relationship. They report it was a pleasurable experience. They enjoyed it. It was fun. The first time they engage in sexual activity, they usually dialogue with their parents, , about it as well. , which in the US it’s like we don’t talk about.

This is like, if anyone’s watching canto, this is the Bruno of our life here. We’ll talk about it. Like we just don’t talk about it. , and yet like, oh, so good. We can see there’s just better outcomes happening there. So while we might have certain beliefs that we really have to go to, like the core of what do we really want as a society, what do we really, and there’s a myth that if we teach people about sex, they’ll wanna have sex.

And what we see from the researches is if you teach people about sex, not just like s STIs and pregnancies, and be afraid, if you teach them about it, they actually delay it. They actually are like, and then, and then they’re gonna be like, I’m not gonna just do this with anyone because I, I want this to be someone who respects me.

And like, I, it’s a, it’s a very [01:00:00] different dynamic altogether. Um, and so that’s just to say that like, I think we need to really start looking at. Who’s doing it best by the outcomes we want. I think we all wanna see less teen pregnancies, less STIs, a society where people have pleasurable experiences and the rate of sexual assault is much lower.

, so that’s my little piece about why I do what I do. And you know, like I said to you before we started, the podcast, I’m very clear my book is not for Children. This is book is not for teenagers. This is the book that I want the parents to have. So this is for grown adults cuz there’s a lot of sex talk in there.

This stuff that’s gonna make you uncomfortable because I have really tried to bring in as much information to support whoever needs it. And you might be like, I don’t need this. Turn that page, go to where you need, it’s okay if you ever want that, it’s there for you, but not [01:01:00] everything’s gonna be for you in the book.

And that’s okay. But the way I see it is that, and this is kind of like I will say I’m, I’m gonna tell you the iron like this kind of funny, but I am te, I wanna teach parents so that their kids come to them and have that conversation. And they are better equipped not to spread myths and dogma and bullshit that they were taught, that that has hurt them in ways they don’t even realize, but that they actually can give the information their children need.

And if they need to take it through the lens of like, well this is my religious belief and I want to weave that in of like, this is also our belief system without fearmongering, without being like, you know, this is big, scary things, but saying like this is what we believe, this is why we believe it, and this is the science round it.

And. Get to marry that and bring that together and then give that to your child. Now I say this is like, kind of funny is because I, as we talked about, and I think in the other podcast, I homeschool my child and, um, the [01:02:00] homeschooling community that we’re part of has asked me to do like a sex ed, um, to which I’ve like decided on.

It’s gonna be a series and we’re starting with just reproductive physiology and anatomy, what it is, how it works, how’s the menstrual cycle work. And that’s gonna be for like our eight year olds and up. But what I’ve done is I’ve told the moms you need to come with. So, and by the way, for everybody who’s like, are you, are you pushing out dads or anything?

No, this is like this. C i I know my community, they all have moms and their moms probably don’t know this stuff. And what they. Isn’t gonna sink in, but what their mom hears will probably sink in. And so when that child, cuz this is what they do, here’s something, percolates on it. Three months later it comes up, goes to their parent and asks this, now their parent’s gonna be like, okay, I can actually answer this.

Like, I actually understand how this works because a lot of adults don’t even understand how their [01:03:00] body works. Um, so I just think it’s funny cause I’m like, this book’s for adults. I wanna teach adults. I wanna do all of that. And then my community’s like, will you please, please, please teach this? Like, and I’m like, uh, okay, okay.

That’s the foundational one I will build. If people are like, oh, she’s excluding stuff. Nothing’s being excluded, I just am gonna build class layers for them so that like, They can, they can get there when they need. Cuz I don’t need to talk to an eight year old right now about everything. like, they don’t need to know everything when they don’t even know like, what’s a labia and where does P come from?

Like there’s, we gotta have a starting 

[01:03:35] Liz Wolfe: place. Well I feel like 90% of adults don’t know the difference between a vulva and a vagina. So, I mean, we, we gotta start at ground level. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s a responsive thing. So will you be scaling this educational component into something that I can buy online and use from my children

[01:03:53] Jolene Brighten: Um, I will definitely be doing that. Um, as of [01:04:00] yesterday said, I’m building this whole thing and I tell one friend about this that’s not in the c. And then I get text messages from other friends. One of like, so I didn’t even know that sex ed got put on the back burner during covid for a bunch of of kids, and they’re going to college and they’ll know anything.

And I’m like, how much have you talked to your child about like, consent? Like, uh, that is a friend of mine. And she’s like, I don’t know, like a bit, but like, nobody taught me about consent. I don’t even know how to teach consent. She’s like, I’m, I’m in skincare. Like, what do I know? And I’m like, okay, okay, okay.

Like, th this is like that. But like, everyone’s like, can I zoom, call in, can I do this? I’m like, you can’t. This is like, no, it’s gonna be in my house. Yeah, you’re not Zoom. Calling in to my like, uh, in terms of like broadcasting this and everything, I don’t broadcast where I live, . I have kids. But yes, I am gonna scale it.

Um, and I’m just figuring out how to do that cuz I’m like, the talk’s already written and the stuff’s already [01:05:00] up and uh, I do, I’ve actually been asked for this so many times online. Yeah. But I’m like, no I don’t, I don’t teach kids, I don’t teach kids. Um, I also have been asked to consider a position as an advisor of a new school that’s starting up to help with their sex education program.

So I’m like, okay, all right. Maybe like, I feel like, here’s the thing, everybody, here’s the secret. If you say you don’t do something, the universe is gonna be like, oh, oh, you don’t now, let’s see. Um, and I also feel like it’s sometimes the stuff that you’re resisting is that, like you already know you’re supposed to be moving in that direction, but I’m like, first things first.

Yeah. I wanna take care of my full adult grown humans and make sure that they’re empowered because they think back. The most like the, and, and I have to just look at like how I would do all of this too, because I really do want parents involved. Although I told my husband, I’m like, it will be like, you know how you go places and it’s like, no children left unattended.

It’ll be a no adults left unattended situation. Like you cannot just be a [01:06:00] criminal adult coming into this. Like you have there better be a child. Like, um, yes. When you get onto the internet, you just, again, I see a hackers, I get scared stuff and I’m like, do this. Right. But it is something that I do think like the most powerful education comes from parents and what I really, while I want, I definitely want children to have this information.

I think it’s really important. I think making it a w like building that bridge so that you can always communicate with your parents. Like I as a parent am like if. If mine can ever , crash the car, I don’t want their first thought to be \ , my mom is gonna be so mad, my dad is gonna kill me. , I want their first thought to be, I need to call my parents.

I need help. And that’s really what I wanna see, , with this book, is that parents get this information and they’re able to have, you know, basically internalize this information so [01:07:00] that it’s their own, so that when their children come to them, they ha this is, they own this information, they’ve made it their own.

And so they are able to teach it in a way that matches their child needs but also matches their parenting and who they are. So that’s my dream. , but first things first is this normal? , the book is all about just really empowering you to know your body to be able. Navigate sex, navigate sex hormones, navigate your period, know all of the things that your sex ed teacher should have told you, but probably didn’t because it, there’s a lot to learn while you’re in school.

And also, there’s all of these laws and restrictions that keep them from bringing you the best medically accurate 

[01:07:43] Liz Wolfe: information. And for parents too, it’s like, I can’t teach. You know, I, there’s things that I can, and there’s things that I cannot do. I probably couldn’t get all spun up on calculus and teach it, but I can certainly get spun up on what’s going on in my body, get really articulate, be really body literate, [01:08:00] and then be able to educate and take part in that process with my kids.

Cuz that’s where I’m at now. She’s seven, my oldest is seven and I cannot educate her until I’m better educated myself. And I wish I thought about that before, but I’m thinking about it now. So, you know, at least there’s that. And I just appreciate that. I’m just so excited to read this book and to, to learn more.

I mean about everything from libido to , Changes in the libido during the menstrual cycle, all of that. Like I feel like you’ve just put all of it in there and maybe there’s gonna have to be like a volume one and a volume two if you’ve got 140,000 words. But I’m here for both . 

[01:08:36] Jolene Brighten: I know. It’s like, I just laugh cuz it’s so much.

Well the other thing is that there’s a program, Oh yeah, yeah. Which is, it’s not just information. And I guess maybe I like should have told you all that, , to begin with is that there’s actual things to go through. And, , it’s a 28 day program, , which I just like wanna shout out. My editor, , Ronnie Alvarado, she , is just so good [01:09:00] at naming things and she like called it the one cycle to change them all.

program. She’s like 28 days program. Cause I’m boring. I’m like, just say what it is. . And she’s like one cycle to change them all. And I don’t know, I’m a nerd so I feel very lord of rings oh, one ring to rule them all. , I’m a nerd, so, but in this program, there’s quizzes throughout this book, so like understanding why do you have pain socks and what things should you be investigating and what might be going on?

Um, you know, like P C O S or endometriosis, and then there’s a big hormone quiz. And in that hormone quiz it’s really helping you identify where imbalances may come up. And as we go through, uh, this, like, let me just say like, part of why there’s so many words is that there’s like what to do about hormone imbalances.

Then I take you through a 28 day program where you can incorporate that. And, um, with incorporating all of that, there’s also stuff about [01:10:00] like, how is your sex sexual desire changing through your cycle? Here’s some things to try, like with your partner or to understand yourself more, or like, here’s the best time in your cycle to make that like sexy time playlist on Spotify and.

Um, then there’s also like advanced cycle solutions. And these are things of like, okay, so you might have like, you may have identified that you have high estrogen problems, however, like you are struggling with acne as well, or you are struggling. And so there’s actual issues that you might have that you can go in and you can look at.

And everything is, what’s the nutrition, what’s the lifestyle and what’s the supplementation? Because I think, and you know, we talked about this in our previous podcast, people, there’s like always just like one pill and what supplements can I take? And I think it’s so important to recognize that you really have to have that trifecta.

diet and lifestyle will take you far. If you are struggling with symptoms and you’re really [01:11:00] struggling, you, you’re gonna probably need some supplements to come in as an ally to really get things moving. And that doesn’t mean that like all of these things you have to do for the rest of your life, but I want you to bring in the things that are gonna help you and really understand like what is most beneficial for you.

And so we put it all together in terms of like how to support your hormones, how to support your cycle, how to have better orgasms, how to, you know, improve your sex life, whether you’re with a partner or not with a partner. Um, and it all really comes together. And here’s the thing about it. Um, 140 words.

Most health books are like half recipes, right? There’s no recipes. So , I’m okay with that. . Yeah. So that’s the, like, I just want people to understand like, This is jam packed full of information. And in fact, and we had to make a call, um, because we were like, we can’t. Recipes and a meal [01:12:00] plan and all of that.

And so I actually have built online Reeses Resources for that. So if you are someone who’s like, okay, you’re talking about how to fill my play, you’re talking about how, like, how am I gonna do this? Because I’m someone who needs structure. We’ve got that for you. And so when, when you have the book, you can go to i t n is this normal resources, so dr, itt n resources, and that will be there for you.

So you can get the meal plan, you can get the recipe guide, um, you can get what you need. And so there’s, there’s a book, but then there’s also these extra tools that go with the book because it couldn’t fit it all in. And I took the stuff that I was like, I could just do that online. Like, I can make that digital, by the way.

I would much rather have like a meal plan I can put on my fridge than like one that’s in a, in a book. Um, and so just for people to understand that, uh, Like this is no fluff . There’s no fluff in this. 

[01:12:59] Liz Wolfe: Well, there are a [01:13:00] few books that I have that I consider, not just like books that I read because I wanted to learn more, but also books that I will continue to reference over time.

They’re like part entertainment, part education, part textbook, and part forever reference book. And I will pull them out, flip to the index and just be like, what does this book say about this? 

[01:13:20] Jolene Brighten: And believe if for nothing else, it’s gonna make some of the best conversation starters ever, or will be the smartest person, in terms of, of, of women’s health in the room. I think, , it’s just important like for people to have a guide and a resource that they can go to as questions come up and that they can look into things and really, , and it it be trusted.

So everything is referenced. , there’s like 500 citations, there’s like over 500 citations. Everything is referenced so that if you are nerdy like me and you’re like, oh, I wanna go read up on that and like, what, you know, where did this information come from? That’s all there for you as [01:14:00] well. , I wrote this so that this would be a book that you go back to time and again, and that you’re able, like when something comes up, you can go back, you can look at it, you can say like, okay, so, right now I, I’m, , at this phase of my cycle.

This is what’s going on with my symptoms, my libido. Should I be concerned? Understanding like is my p m s. Maybe too much. Is it crossing the threshold into P M D D? In which case I might need support, I might need, I might need pharma, pharmaceutical intervention for a period of time to really understand like the nuances of that and to understand it from your own perspective.

Because I think that there’s a lot that we get weighed down with, , in our day-to-day that makes us forget about our own bodies or forget about our needs. And so I made these checklists, I made these graphics, I made these things. So it’s like, okay, yes, there’s, , reading. Hopefully it’s not boring. I wrote it and my [01:15:00] editor is amazing, and she was like, if it’s not your voice, I don’t want it.

If you’re not being funny, I don’t want it. Spoiler. If you tell me to be funny, I am not funny. , we figured that out. , but I tried to make it just an enjoyable read. I think like, I mean, how do you make sex boring? I, I know how people can make hormones boring, but like, I mean, suck should not be boring.

Um, but I try to make it enjoyable. If you don’t like my personality, just so you know, you can just skip me and read the, read the other stuff. like, where’s that checklist at? Like, I’m just gonna read up on that. P C O S, like, she thinks she’s funny talking about that, blah, she’s not funny. , but I did try to make it enjoyable and not, not dry because I, well, one, I’m definitely neuro spicy, so I have a very hard time, like when it’s just like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and you’re reading through it and I’m just like, I can’t, I finally figured out like, you know, decades later, why in college I struggled so much with [01:16:00] textbooks and I was just like, oh, cuz it was like boring

So in life, oh yeah, you finally make the reproductive anatomy physiology, like, you know, book that answers all your questions and that you actually wanna read a and you do wanna talk about it and. That you learn fun little things like the things about like the the Catholic church and the missionary style.

Like what is that about? Like what is that? That’s why missionary. And then, and then there’s like, you know, , I mean there’s just so many. If you are a history nerd and we talked about this and now, and there’s like some fun little, , history things in there that make you realize that like, , if you do have a fetish or a kink or any of that kind of, you’re actually not unique. 

, and you’re nothing new and you’re definitely not abnormal because like we’ve got like the Han Dynasty coming out with things that you’re like, they did what? with what? . So Za., it’s normal. But also there are things that are not normal. And I talk a lot about those. And when it is a go to the [01:17:00] doctor moment, when it is a, you need intervention moment when it is a, yeah, you, you, you need to like make some shifts in your diet, lifestyle, all those kinds of things.

[01:17:11] Liz Wolfe: So what you are saying is this is not the missionary position of books . This is . 

[01:17:18] Jolene Brighten: So good. . 

[01:17:20] Liz Wolfe: Oh, I’m trying to think what position. This shows all my sexual deficits. I’m like, is this the doggy style of, , books about sex? ? 

[01:17:27] Jolene Brighten: I will say that you, dear reader, , you, you’ll assume the cowgirl position and you’ll ride this off into the sunset of pleasure,

[01:17:35] Liz Wolfe: Oh, you just took that and ran with it. That was so good. So, so good. I appreciate you so much for spending all of this time with me this morning so I can get this out there to my people and so that they can benefit from everything you know, as well.

[01:17:48] Jolene Brighten: Yeah. Well thanks for spending the time with me as well. , for people who are here with us, thank you so, so very much. Um, if you are grabbing, is this normal also, I wanna hear about it, let [01:18:00] me know. You can pop onto Amazon and let me know. How did it help you?

 What was your Oh my God moment. I love hearing, that stuff. And then of course, go to the resources, dr resources so that you can get the extra support that maybe, maybe you don’t need initially, but it’s there for you. 

[01:18:20] Liz Wolfe: Thank you so much Dr.

Brighten. [01:18:22] Jolene Brighten: Thank you.

Thanks for listening to the new Balanced Bites Podcast! Before you shut down your podcast app, PLEASE take a moment to subscribe and leave a review! It’s a small thing you can do that I appreciate more than you can imagine! And speaking of what we can do for each other, if YOU have a question you’d like to have tackled on this podcast or an interview you’d like to hear, submit the details at Let’s keep unpacking, unraveling, contextualizing and nuance-ing the important questions together so we can be empowered, informed, active participants in our own health and happiness.

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