I grew up reading the New York Times. I was raised in New York City for a good portion of my childhood and once we moved to Vermont, my mother had my siblings and me read an article, highlight any words we did not understand and report back to her. This was our chore in order to go out with our friends. Today she still sends me articles to read and recently she sent me an article on ‘How To Stop Your Period.’
I immediately felt a sense of rage take over and was in disbelief that someone would actually be sharing information on How To Stop Your Period . As I read the article, I was riding the edge of anger and passion. I knew that the sense of anger I felt, as I disagreed with the author’s view , was also the same fuel for the passion I have to support women and their menstrual cycles and was also the same fuel that called out what I stand for.
I stand for women being given the knowledge to understand why their cycles can be challenging on so many levels. I stand for women using these challenges and knowledge as access to their wisdom and power. I stand for for a culture that supports women to connect with their bodies-in the light, the dark, and the wild-in order to fully embody their authentic feminine essence.
As far as I am concerned , we need to be sharing more support for more growth, rather than suppression and fear. So I decided to write this post in an effort to do my part.
I encourage readers to read the article , so we can all get a sense of what is out there. I want highlight a few points she makes and in return hope to shine a different light, giving readers some knowledge and awareness.
The article advocates women to use ‘menstrual suppression’ as a means to cope with physical challenges of a period and even a method to cope with their lives. She writes, “‘Brides and vacationers use period suppression so a special event or trip isn’t ruined by a difficult period and how fewer periods can help improve quality of life for women in extreme employment situations.”
She continues to highlight the use of oral contraception as a way to achieve this, which include one brand call Seasonele which only gives a woman 4 periods a year. She says most of the women she polled seemed to have an interest in this menstrual suppression and the many who do not want to try period suppression have “been conditioned to believe that a monthly period is a sign of good health.” Finally , the author points out that there are ‘no known risks of using birth control continuously beyond the side effect profile that already exists for the drug.’
Ok...that's about as much as I can type without that feeling of rage boil within me! The many reasons to why I disagree with this article are under the umbrella of the science and the spirit of menstrual cycle, which is how I choose to share my work with women and their cycles.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND WHY I DO NOT THINK WE SHOULD STOP OUR PERIODS:
To say continuous birth control only has the side effects that already exist under the drug, is a huge understatement and gives a completely false profile for what actually studies show for using birth control , continuous or not.
Birth control , which is what we are talking about here, encourages the the one size fits all model. Women and their cycles are most definitely NOT a one size fits all and this only encourages the idea that all women should fit into one mold of looking and feeling.
In a 2012 study birth control was linked to higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis) due to synthetic estrogen , which does a number on our good bacteria. Problems with digestive systems leads to so many diseases down the road.
Birth control inhibits the absorption of B vitamins, zinc and magnesium , which just so happen to be very important for hormonal balance and fertility.
Birth Control dries up our cervical fluid because we are not ovulating, which down the road , when a woman wants to get pregnant, can cause infertility and major hormonal imbalances . It also further ingrains an epidemic in which we women are told infertility can only be “fixed” with drugs.
Birth control is a MAJOR ENDROCRINE DISRUPTOR, which means chemicals at a certain dose (here being the Birth Control) can cause disruption in our endrocrine system, which governs so much of health including immune system, mood, digestion , and sleep.
Taking birth control for short or long time can cause some major side effects that puts us on a hamster wheel of physical and emotional symptoms. To say casually that there are some side effects is a not only an understatement , but is not the true facts. Empowering women with the true health effects of birth control informs women to make choices about their bodies, which in turn creates a healthy relationship with herself versus a model of suppression, band-aide remedies, and disempowered women.
THE SPIRIT BEHIND WHY I DO NOT THINK WE SHOULD STOP OUR PERIODS:
A woman’s menstrual cycle is a rite a passage and I believe her spiritual assignment in life. The call of becoming young woman is marked by her first period and is the beginning of her heroine's journey towards wholeness. A journey which is explored each month, and within a lifetime, marked with challenges , thresholds , and shadows; all supporting a woman’s capacity to face these trials with wisdom and strength.
Suppressing our periods not only suppresses the physical aspects our cycle, but also suppresses the connection to self. A woman’s intuition is her greatest ally and disconnecting from our natural state weakens the ability to hear her intuition , which is her voice. If we suppress all the uncomfortable challenges and create a pretty box for us to fit into , then we are also weakening our capacity to acquire skillful ways to move through these challenges. We can not gain wisdom and strength without learning to walk through the fire and shadows. The work we are asked to do as women is held in the layers of physical and emotional pain within our cycles. Suppression will only create a woman with no voice, lack of intuition, or disconnect to herself.
Deleting our periods disconnects us from pleasure. As I noted, birth control shuts off our ability to naturally ovulate. Ovulation is the juice we get in order to step into feeling pleasure. Pleasure ignites the natural state of being our erotic selves and being erotic is our primitive, wild, turned on, inspired selves. I am not only speaking of sexual pleasure, but pleasure as tool to help us navigate what turns on our passion and purpose in this life. A deeper connection to pleasure lends to a deeper satisfaction with life.
Shutting off our menstrual cycles, shuts us off from the past, present and future. When I read this article I had the same reaction and thought as I do when I hear about the deforestation of the indigenous Amazon. The Amazonian forest and the people who among the forest, hold ancient wisdom within the ancient and landscape. Most of the wisdom held in the Amazon is not written down, documented , or preserved. The wisdom is held within the trees , the healers, the elders, and the one’s who walked before them. What they know is taught by their deep connection to their natural surroundings, the connection with the plant medicine among them, and the ability to communicate with the earth and her offerings. All of this wisdom is being deleted with each tree and community being uprooted. To me, I see deleting our menstrual cycles as the same method as deleting the wisdom of Amazonian forest. Our menstrual cycle is synced to the phases of the moon and the tides of the oceans.
Just like the people of the Amazon connect to the trees , plants, and animals among them, we too have a direct connection between our outer and inner natural landscape by means of our cycle. This connection IS our blueprint and is our wisdom.
We learn how to become women from this connection to our natural self and what we learn will passed down to the generations ahead of us.
I am not advocating for women to bear with the physical pain that can come with our cycles. I am advocating for empowering women with the knowledge they need to make informed choices for their body’s.
This knowledge and awareness in which our cycles offers us tools and information about who we are, what we desire, and how we can make change from pain, sorrow, grief into purpose, pleasure into inspiration and power into wisdom.
If we think providing a fix it remedy that involves suppressing our periods for a “better” quality of life, then we are only giving women a choice that says we are unable, incapable, and too small to work with what we are given. I stand for women who are willing, able, strong, and wise and have confidence they can work with and through what they are presented in life.
I hope this post has served you!