Aunt Flo. On the rag. That time of the month. Checking into the Red Roof Inn. Mother Nature’s Curse. Mother Nature’s Gift. The Red Scare. Riding the Cotton Cowboy.
All of these are euphemisms for the menstrual period, which women have been experiencing for at least a half a million years. And now, we have the technology to suppress it.
There are several drugs that would allow a woman to either completely suppress her periods, or cut down on the number of periods she has per year, i.e. 4 instead of 13. Suppressing periods using birth control pills usually involves skipping the placebo pills (the 7 pills in a 28-pill pack of birth control which are inactive) and starting a new pack of pills right away.
There are several risks involved with menstrual suppression. First, not having a period could cause one’s iron levels to build up, which can increases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Also, non-stop use of estrogen can lead to a woman having less available natural testosterone. A woman needs a certain level of natural testosterone to “build healthy bones, keep muscles strong, protect against depression, heart attack, and stroke, keep hair shiny, and combat dry eye”, according to this article. A lower level of testosterone can also kill a woman’s libido. [Perhaps eliminating her need for the birth control in the first place… what a vicious cycle].
I understand that some people could benefit from the elimination of their menstrual cycles, particularly those who experience severe symptoms and miss school or work as a result. Also, it would be beneficial for the environment to cut down on the numbers of pads and tampons in landfills. [Alex’s blog from a while back gives an example of another way to accomplish this.]
I am wary of menstrual suppression, mostly because we aren’t sure of the long-term health risks involved. A part of me feels like it is just another way to denigrate femininity: we use models with body types resembling those of young boys to showcase women’s fashion. Women are “encouraged” to eliminate most or all of their pubic hair, which is reminiscent of pre-pubescence. And I don’t like the fact that advocates of menstrual suppression call the menstrual cycle “gross” and “inconvenient” and make it seem like a hassle. I mean, I have been known to complain my period, but, at the same time, I believe it is part of a natural rhythm of human life, a rhythm which has occurred for over half a million years.