This post is my rebuttal to all the doctors and scientists who have stood at the podium and tried to explain to a room full of women that menstruation is not natural. Because, they say, our ancestors did not menstruate nearly so often as do we modern women. We should, therefore, be happy to use the drugs of hormonal birth control to shut down our cycles.
But here’s the thing. Yes, our ancestors probably were pregnant or breastfeeding a lot of the time and so had fewer periods. But they did have the hormones of pregnancy, which are estradiol, estriol, prolactin, oxytocin, and of course the super-beneficial progesterone. They did not, notably, have the drugs ethinylestradiol, levonorgestrel and drospirenone, which are the drugs of birth control and are not beneficial like our own hormones.
As women, we benefit from our own hormones. That should be stating the obvious, but for some reason, it needs to be said. Women need estrogen and progesterone and NOT just for reproduction. We need them for bones, muscles, metabolism, and mood. We need them for general health. Just as, say, men need testosterone and not just for reproduction. Would anyone honestly make the argument that men need testosterone only when they’re trying to father a child?
We need hormones, and apart from pregnancy, the only way to make those hormones is to ovulate.
Regular, monthly ovulation is how women make hormones. So if we agree that hormones are beneficial, then we have to agree that monthly cycles are beneficial.
It is the cycle that is beneficial. The bleed itself is only an inevitable outcome. Because, in general, it is not possible to ovulate but then not have a period. (The only exceptions being pregnancy, of course, and also the hormonal IUD.)
⚠ Tip: The hormonal IUD (Mirena) is a unique situation. Most types of hormonal birth control suppress ovulation but cause bleeding (the worst-case scenario). The hormonal IUD (Mirena) does the opposite in that it permits ovulation but not bleeding. So, if menstrual suppression is your goal, then Mirena is the only reasonable option. On the downside, the levonorgestrel drug in Mirena can cause acne, hair loss, and depression. See The Pros and Cons of the Hormonal IUD (Mirena).
So. Do we need periods?
No, we don’t need periods if a period is defined as a bleed. And we certainly don’t need pill-bleeds which are nothing whatsoever to do with ovulation or beneficial hormones. Watch Why Pill Bleeds Are Not Periods.
But we do need periods if a period is defined as a hormonal cycle.
And I would invite all women to at least contemplate having a regular cycle. I do understand it is not always easy. Sometimes, as in the case of PCOS, it is difficult to ovulate. Or sometimes, as in the case of the inflammatory disease endometriosis, it is painful and scary to have a period.
I address such problems in my book Period Repair Manual and offer what I hope are possible solutions for almost every woman.
My life’s work is to help women to have easy periods and to, therefore, reconnect women with the hormonal vitality that is their birthright.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment.