Are women attached to their periods?

Not everyone wants to suppress the monthly flow.


Tracy Clark-Flory
June 1, 2006 1:57AM (UTC)

Opting for four periods a year, or opting out of menstruation altogether, isn't the no-brainer it may seem to be. New period-supressing birth control pills offer women the inviting prospect of no cramps and little bleeding. But whether out of superstition or skepticism, many women are hesitant to abandon their periods, according to Forbes.

"As much as I would love to not be bothered by a monthly period, I can't believe that manipulating hormones and your body's natural cycle to that degree could be healthy," Susan Greenhalgh told Forbes.

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Gynecologists describe birth control pills that suppress women's periods as a regimen that simply prolongs the amount of time a woman takes the hormonal pill, as opposed to the placebo. Pill users typically take seven days' worth of placebos each month. But with period-supressing Seasonale, women only take the seven-day placebo course four times a year. And even this is unnecessary, according to gynecologist Shari Brasner. She says the four periods a woman experiences while taking Seasonale don't "serve any true medical purpose." But mentally, most women aren't prepared to transition to zero periods, Brasner says.

According to Dr. Camelia Davtyan, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, pill users already are experiencing unnatural periods: "There was no actual maturation or transformation of the lining of the uterus." As for the reasoning behind the seven-day placebo: "There's an anecdote that's floating around the gynecologic world that when the Pill was first introduced 40-something years ago, it was made by a bunch of guy gynecologists. They just thought women would be much happier to have something closer to their natural period, rather than to have no periods at all," Davtyan says.

If the Forbes article is to be taken seriously, the progenitors of the pill may have been on to something. There are a number of period-suppressing birth control pills currently awaiting FDA approval, but the greater hurdle may be women's reluctance. Why the hesitancy to give up something so popularly bemoaned? Davtyan postulates that "there is something about femininity and periods that kind of goes together psychologically."


Tracy Clark-Flory

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