My feelings on this post have changed since I last wrote it. See comments!
**I usually put a warning above posts like this. The words ovulation, menses and period are used multiple times in this post. If those words make you uncomfortable, then you might not want to continue reading further.**
So something has come across my way one too many times this week for me not to write about it….
“I’m on the pill because it regulates my periods.”
“My gyno told me that the pill was the only way to cure my PCOS.”
“I used to have terrible cramps, but the pill regulated my periods AND took care of my cramps.”
I understand why the pill is a more desirable choice for many women. I believe you should have the right to make the choice on what’s best for you and and your situation. I also understand why the pill makes cramps more tolerable, PCOS easier, and overall your periods more trouble-free. I get that. But please, please stop spreading the misconception that the pill regulates your periods.
Scientifically, medically, it is impossible to have a (true) menses without ovulation. The pill terminates ovulation (or is supposed to the majority of the time). Therefore, there is no menses.
Instead, what you have is withdrawal bleeding. Our cycles are not just that week or so of bleeding, there’s a whole symphony of hormones pumping through our system naturally that create the menstrual cycle. So when artificial hormones come into play, all of that halts. There is no phase 1, 2, and 3. You don’t ovulate, which is the whole reason for a menstrual cycle.
The top two charts demonstrate female natural, non-manipulated hormones, the bottom two show the hormones on artificial influence.
Many young teens go on birth control for cramps – oh girl, let me tell you, I know about cramps. I’m not dismissing the fact that they suck. And for some young girls, birth control is just about the only thing that gives them a chance at a normal life. But for others, their body just needs to adjust and develop. Throwing a birth control pill at a 14 year old temporarily relieves them of the pain, but doesn’t actually let their body fully develop.
I think there’s this haze surrounding contraception – we don’t actually know how it works, we just know it does work. And clears our skin, and makes our boobs bigger. It’s the wonder drug. I haven’t even mentioned yet that it prevents pregnancy.
I sound pretty anti pill here today. Do I think you should have the right to use birth control pills? Absolutely. Do I think very highly of the pill? Quite frankly, I wish more money, time, and people would be invested to research other options that actually cure hormonal imbalances. I think doctors should stop using the words “regulate” and “birth control” in the same sentence.
I’d like to see health professionals develop ways to actually cure irregularities. I’d like to see them take the time to figure out WHY cramps are intolerable, or WHY bleeding persists for longer than a week.
Here are the facts that even the highest of medical professionals would agree with me on:
1.You are not having a real period on the pill.
2. In fact, there’s no reason to have bleeding on the pill because you’re not ovulating. No ovulation, no bleeding. Remember how intertwined these two are.
3. The pill makes your cramps lighter because it entirely halts the menstrual cycle. (As I’ve said before, sometimes this is the only, best option.)
So the take home point is this: the pill does not regulate your period. It in fact, eliminates our cycles, and for our comfort level, leaves a nice little few days of something that kind of sort of represents a period. We’re supposed to forget that ovulation is the whole reason for a period. Which is kind of screwed up in of itself – why bother having withdrawal bleeding at all? When the inventors of the pill were designing it, did they say, “Well, we still want them to bleed every month. We definitely don’t want Kotex angry at us. So let’s give them a fake period and tell them it’s a real one.”
Sometimes, this really is the best option for women. Some women would rather take a birth control pill anyways. And for some, despite every fiber in their being wanting a “natural” period, they must be on contraception because of health problems. But with all this talk about knowledge and education on contraception, you’d think the most basic comprehension of how it works would be more well known.