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Should I Use Birth Control To Skip My Period?

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Should I Use Birth Control To Skip My Period?

With the advent of extended cycle contraception (continuous birth control pills such as Seasonale), lots of women are talking about whether or not to have periods. 72 percent of women surveyed say they donít like having periods, and 40 percent would prefer to never have one.† But 50 percent said they would never consider suppressing menstruation with hormones.† In fact, I was just interviewed by Body & Soul magazine regarding this very issue, and itís such a juicy topic, I wanted to share with you some thoughts, in case youíre one of those women trying to figure out whether to bleed or not to bleed.

The History of Menstrual Frequency

First, a history lesson.† Back when we were cave people, women didnít bleed much. Sure, they menstruated, but not very often. They started getting periods late (as we have evolved, the age of first menstruation has gotten younger and younger- we suspect as a result of environmental estrogens found in pesticides, plastics and other toxic substances). They spent the majority of their reproductive life either pregnant or nursing, thus no periods. And they died long before menopause.

The Average Number of Menstrual Cycles a Woman Will Have In Her Lifetime

But the advent of birth control in modern life means women bleed more than they ever have because they can choose how many pregnancies they will have. On average, a woman will have two pregnancies and breastfeed for about 6 months. As recently as the 1900ís, a woman was statistically only likely to have 1-2 menses/year. Now, things have changed. In modern life, women experience an average of 450 menstrual cycles in their lifetime, compared to only 160 cycles for the preĖIndustrial Revolution woman.

Next page: Are Periods Good or Bad?

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

49 comments

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9:02AM PDT on Oct 16, 2010

I was on the Depo Provera shot for about 10 years while I lived in Massachusetts and Illinois. After moving to Florida I was told by my ob/gyn there that I should not have been on it that long and that it could lead to osteoporosis. I had some tests done that showed some bone loss in my hips and spine, but nothing too severe at that point. I was in my 30's and premenopausal so I was not a candidate for any of the drugs to combat the disease. I was told to increase my calcium intake. I went vegan instead and never went back to any pills and am healthy now. Please, ladies, do research and ask your doctors lots of questions. Don't assume they know everything and take your health matters into your own hands. You are responsible for you.

8:12AM PDT on Oct 16, 2010

While I appreciate this article, women need to be more informed than what we are reading here. We need information beyond one doctor or author's biases, and we certainly know doctors have them. I highly recommend Women to Women to further you/me in becoming our own experts. They are a clinic in Vermont that have set up a website with extensive articles by women doctors and nurse practitioners who though trained in western medicine, are also trained in holistic alternative methods to mainstream medicine. It is the best of both worlds! The research is up to date, linking you to the direct research of scientists on these various issues.

Here is their site and an article discussing the pill, missing periods, and its effects... both positive and negative: http://www.womentowomen.com/menopause/bcpperimenopause.aspx

You can search any topic with their search engine that has to do with women's health... even post questions.

Again.. it is VITAL that we do not just take the advice of a well meaning sister or friend or doctor or one article. Take advantage of the body of knowledge the WISE WOMEN of the world have to offer you. For in the end, it is your body and her health that is at stake.

1:48PM PDT on Jun 15, 2010

I hate having my period. It's messy, inconvenient, and I get the absolute worst mood swings.
I've been skipping it ever since I found out I could, and only do a withdrawal week every 3 months to make sure I'm not pregnant.
I am so happy no to have to deal with it every month!

1:22PM PDT on Jun 10, 2010

I've been using this method for years now without any problems. My OB/GYN suggested skipping my period because I had really intense headaches and she suspected hormones were the cause. We switched from monophasic then to triphasic and back and forth. Depo helped the most with the headaches but I gained 15 pounds in 4 months and I'm a pretty small gal. Gaining that much weight in such a short time scared me so I switched back to a monophasic pill. Since that time, I've started eating a combination of a raw foods diet and lacto-ovo vegetarian diet - I avoid preservatives almost entirely and BAM! Headaches gone. Perhaps my healthy eating either helped to regulate my hormones or I had some sort of food allergy causing them. Either way, I'm thrilled they're gone. I still continue to skip my periods as often as I like... mostly if its going to be during a vacation or during a busy, stressful week. Otherwise, I try to have it every few months just to assess the situation. For the most part, my periods have gone from being almost unbearable to super light and most of the time, painless.

11:28AM PDT on Jun 10, 2010

Don't forget everyone has a different body and their bodies will react differently to each situation. So it's best to seek medical attention before assuming that is the same situation you are in.

6:40PM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

I;'m a bit unsure about whether or not this is a good idea. I am a teenage girl, so I have a lot of friends who are on the pill who skip the placebo week in order to never have a period. I don't think they do the 12-week cycle either, they just keep the hormones going. I don't think that it is a good idea to be messing with your bodies natural rhythms. Then again, my body is untrasensative so I'm probably more careful than other people need to be. In the end, I think you need to find what is right for you and your body, we just need to keep in mind that whenever we are forcing something unnatural in our bodies there could be consequences.

10:18AM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

Can anyone tell me why it's not ok to use triphasic pills to skip your period?

Helen

6:51AM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

As a teenager, I had fairly bad cramping and nausea during the first 2 or three days of my period. I got pregnant at 18 and since having my first child,I have absolutely no pain or problems associated with my period. Regular bleeding for 3 days, then 2 very light days, then done. I don't even know I've gotten it until I see blood. I guess the hormones produced during pregnancy balanced whatever was causing me pain during my period.
I have never been on birth control but have considered using a non-hormonal copper IUD. I am worried about side effects, though. I also worry about my daughter, who will be a teenager soon and will be deciding if she wants to use hormomal methods of birth control. I don't have a need for hormones to regulate my period, as it causes no discomfort and very little inconvenience. I think of it as a sort of monthly cleansing.

1:18AM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

A chiropractor can "fix" many things, but painful menstrual cycles aren't one of them. Birth control pills aren't a good recommendation, either........they're meant to prevent pregnancy, not control menstrual periods, although because they're hormones, they DO do just that. Many times, painful (and extremely heavy)menstrual periods (and I had them for years) are the result of fibroid tumors, which are more common than many realize, and there are now ways of removing them without surgery (hysterectomy). Nobody knows for sure what the long-term effects of the "extended cycle" hormones are, but think about it............there are now dozens of class-action lawsuits out there for some of the so-called "once a month" pills.

7:53PM PDT on Jun 6, 2010

Amen!!!!!!!!!

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