Missing your period

There’s been a lot of chatter about this article, which talks about how women are choosing to no longer have their periods by continuing to take birth control pills (instead of that week-off business which makes the bleeding start); some are opting to have Aunt Flo in town only a few times a year.

The troublesome part of this culturally has a lot to do with how it’s being marketed, especially on television. I wrote a rant about this on AlterNet last year; I’m sparing those readers this somewhat intimate glimpse today, haha. The point is that pharmaceutical companies are marketing our periods as a disease that needs to be cured, not as something that’s healthy and natural. Another way to demonize women’s bodies as unclean or just plain “not right.”

Recently, I went to my GYN with some weird feeling around my left ovary, not pain, just sort of… well, indescribable. Without going into too much detail, my doctor (who’s very much committed to alternative medicine as well as standard medicine) suggested that I take a stronger Pill for two months straight, missing three periods in total. I was creeped out and irritated.

I mentioned the above rant about marketing and while she agreed with that view, she also pointed out something that I hadn’t thought about. Evolutionarily speaking, our bodies haven’t caught up to our lifestyles yet, and more specifically, the fact that we’re living way, way longer than we should be. And for women, we’re having way, way more periods than we ever were supposed to, and it’s evidently pretty stressful on the reproductive system.

She explained that, contradictory to what I’d learned in that 5th grade health-n-hygiene session (which were, as she noted, often sponsored by Tampax and Kotex), it’s not that our uteruses build up a bunch of tissue over the course of three weeks that needs be flushed out by having a period. It’s more like the tissue is there, and the stopping of certain hormones releases it. By continuing the hormones, we’re just continuing the tissue’s existence.

There’s evidently some research out there (I haven’t looked for it yet) that suggests taht by having as many periods as we do now (think about it: 13 years old –> 50 years old, times 12, is over 400 periods) is stressing our reproductive systems out so much that it might be causing ovarian and other cancers.

This certainly doesn’t excuse big pharma for marketing our bodies as diseased, of course, but it’s worth considering.


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