Reflections on contraception  

 
Women without menstruation? [1]
 

 

No much further than last week the Lybrel pill was approved in the United States. Its continuous hormone supply makes menstruation disappear (it is taken the 365 days of the year).

 
Those of us who are in daily contact with gynecological clinic know how difficult it is for women to recover a normal menstruation or get pregnant after having taken hormonal contraceptives for a long time. It is difficult to believe in an immediate recovery of menstruation (one of the argumentations of the pharmacological industry) and ovulation after having abolished them chemically.

 
In general, women are not informed about the side effects the use of high doses of estrogens may cause. This dose is much higher if the aim is to completely abolish the menstrual period. A hyperestrogenic state can lead to complications such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, obesity, an increase of autoimmune illnesses, thrombosis, a diminution or lack of libido leading to a lack of sexual appetite.

 
Abolishing the cycle aggressively ignoring its consequences in the long term can be dangerous. As dangerous as it was, some time ago, the abusive consumption of oral contraceptive methods which nowadays proves its incidence in the increase of women suffering from cancer in first world societies.

 
Research efforts in the last 50 years have been concerned with the inhibition of the feminine cycle instead of trying to understand it and modify its symptoms as homeopathic medicine has been doing for more than two centuries.

 
From a genre perspective, the panorama is not bleaker. If we consider that very effective birth control methods already exist, as well as ways to soothe some typical malaises of the menstrual period, the pill comes to women’s life with the only purpose of setting us “free” from menstruation, spreading the wrong and oppressive idea that a natural and vital process of women’s body is something of which we need to release us from.

 
The feminine cycle does not limit itself to the genital apparatus and the uterus, but the estrogen secretion and progesterone have effects on the whole body every month. Menstruation and its symptoms are health manifestations in women, and many times the changes of menstruation (not only physical but also emotional) indicate an emotional or social disequilibrium such as stress.

 
Moreover, taboos, mystification, and wrong ideas about menstruation are nothing new: for more than fifty years TV has been encouraging us day after day to feel safer, cleaner, or dare to wear a white pair of trousers not feeling embarrassed.

 
From our earliest adolescence we have been directly or indirectly brought up with the idea that menstruation is something dirty, uncomfortable, embarrassing, symbol of female weakness, something to be hidden. The huge amount of products devoted to this topic seem to direct their marketing strategies towards these characteristics.

 
The new pill, not only strengthens this idea, but also goes beyond it. Eliminating menstruation completely from women’s lives also means eliminating the part of our organic lives which is exclusively related to what is feminine, what is different.

 
However, our bodies’ welfare regarding their internal processes is certainly not what this anti-menstruation crusade is pursuing.
 


[1] Article published in Diagonal newspaper.  Barcelona, jun 2007.

 


 

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