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May 29, 2007

Auntie Flo doesn't visit here anymore

The FDA has approved a birth control pill that will eliminate periods. There’s an excellent account of the pill and surrounding debate at Slate. The basic back–and-forth goes:

It’s not natural to stop periods!
It’s not natural for women to have so many periods!

If we were cranking out babies and breastfeeding starting at the “natural” age of about 15, we’d have way less periods. According to Reproductive professor Ian Fraser,

"Breast cancer in our society is 100-fold greater than in primitive societies and having lots of menstrual cycles probably plays a role in that."

This whole discussion echoes so many other debates about what’s "natural" for women. That word always makes me wary: while "natural" often connotes goodness, nature can also suck: morning sickness, the fact that a baby doesn’t easily fit through the pelvic bones, miserable periods, death! Sometimes when I hear someone say "your body knows what to do," I curse that knowledge!

I used to to think it was wrong to prevent menstruation. Partly, it’s because I have an association between being a woman and blood: stopping the periods felt like a denial of biology, even sexuality. After all, anorexics stop menstruating. Also, ovulating involves becoming, for lack of a better word, ripe-- which is part of the whole sexual arousal package. I'd miss that sexually charged mid-month feeling if it were hormonally erased.

But the idea that maybe it wasn't so great to have so many periods for so long is starting to make sense to me: The thought of raising a child with my high school boyfriend still makes me shudder, but my body was ready to start conceiving at 15. Had this pill been available earlier and had I been--in the promiscuous heyday of my immortal twenties--able to contemplate things such as cancer risk and a limited egg stash, maybe I would have taken a couple years off and saved a pretty penny on tampons, Advil and bleach.

by ceridwen at 12:04 PM
in pregnancy | sex


I remember I was 16 years old and going on a beach vacation to Cuba and knowing that the week I was going to be away, would be the week I had my period, I talked to my doctor, who told me to take the birth control pill straight through. I did, and I did not get my period and I had a great vacation.
From then on, everytime I went on vacay, I took my pill through... it was great!
Then, when I wanted to have a baby with my hubby, I stopped taking the pill and I got pregnant. The pill is totally my friend!

comment by Loukia at May 30, 2007 10:18 AM

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