A period belongs at the end of a sentence
May 1, 2006 10:23 PM   Subscribe

Should I use birth control to skip my period?

I'm taking the NuvaRing as prescribed: in for 3 weeks, out for 1 week, repeat with a new ring the next week. I'm getting fed up with PMS, cramps, bloating and the lethargic feeling I get whenever Auntie Flow visits so I'm considering continuously using The Ring and skipping my periods altogether (or delaying them for months?). Has anyone else had any success stories with this?

I'm borederline anemic, and IANAD (but I will consult one shortly about this whole thing), but wouldn't it be beneficial for me not to be bleeding each month anyway?
posted by nakedsushi to Health & Fitness (51 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm on the ring also. I've skipped my period twice, the bad part was when I had my next cycle there was a lot of clotting and the cramps were ten times worse. My obgyn has recommended that I skip my period once or twice a year but never for more than two months in a row. If you've just started on the ring (I've been on it for over a year now), the periods get easier later on, minimal cramps and a lighter flow.
posted by vionnett at 10:28 PM on May 1, 2006

Response by poster: That's good to know vionnett. I was on the Ring a couple years before and didn't remember the periods being this bad, but after a year or so of not being on birth control and finally getting on it again, my first period on it seems a lot worse than I remember it should be.
posted by nakedsushi at 10:30 PM on May 1, 2006

Depo-Provera all the way, baby! My apologies to Yeats, but I haven't been loosing the blood-dimmed tide in over a year now. Sure, I gained 15 pounds, but I gained most of it in my chest, my skin cleared up, and (most importantly) I got 99% effective piece of mind vis-a-vis birth control, with no pills to remember to take. I highly recommend it, with the caveat that once you go off the shots--and you shouldn't stay on them longer than two years--you will eventually get your period back...every two weeks for several months until your cycle re-stabilizes. Also, if you are prone to depression, don't take it, because I've had friends with pre-existing mild depression who had horrid reactions.

And yes, it is good for you not to be bleeding every damn month. That's because adult human women are designed to be pregnant a good part of their lives and thus not constantly leaking away their iron supplies. Furthermore, it lowers your risk of uterine and I think also ovarian cancers, because you're not turning over those cells constantly.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:12 PM on May 1, 2006

I had a hysterectomy just over a year ago (Age 36). I had extremely painful, inconveniently short and irregular periods for 20 long years before that. Did I mention that they were extremely painful? Did I mention that the docs said "that's just the way it is"? Physically, this past year has been absolute **BLISS** compared to those years. My mother recently asked me about the difference and I couldn't stop raving.

I used to feel guilty for hating my periods so much, because so many new-age hippie feminists insisted that the only reason you could feel the way I felt was the result of some patriatchal brainwashing, or some BS. They discounted, out of hand, any real physical explanations for my pain (turns out I had ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids, which were exacerbated by my monthly cycles) . I can now say without hesitation that...

Menstruation SUCKS!!!!!!

I wish I knew then what I know now. For instance: the most common regimens of birth control pill include one week (out of four) of inert pills so that "the woman will experience her monthly cycle", because "that's what women want/expect".? My ass!!! These days, medical science allows you to skip most, if not all, of your periods and maintain your eventual fertile ability.

Best advice I can give: if your doctor doesn't listen, then switch doctors IMMEDIATELY. Insist on a female doctor, if it comes to that (I don't like to discriminate, but the only doctors who ever blew off my menstrual pain were males, and no female ever did that. FWIW, my current GP is a young, hip, very understanding male).

Anyway, my point is this: menstruation is not fucking sacred. Ditch it if you can (and you can).
posted by Marla Singer at 11:24 PM on May 1, 2006

I'm with Asparagirl! Life without periods is BLISS. I've actually been on Depo-Provera for just over four years now. I did have a break in the middle and I've discussed the potential calcium-loss issue with my doctor. (He thinks it's not too risky for me given my age and that I do plenty of weight-bearing exercise.)

To back up all these anecdotes with facts:

- The technical term for not having a period is "amenorrhoea." I like that it has "AMEN!" in there.

- Here's an article from The Age about the new wave of birth control pills that are marketed towards those not wanting a period. From the article: "although it may initially seem unnatural, prolonged amenorrhoea is actually nothing new. An article in the Medical Bulletin of the International Planned Parenthood Federation last summer said, 'regular menstruation is not natural: before modern contraception, women spent much of their reproductive lives amenorrhoeic as a consequence of either pregnancy or breastfeeding'."

- And here's a fascinating article on the development of the Pill that basically debunks the idea that having a period every month is in any way "natural". I posted a long response on my website and there was a good discussion in the comments.

Be prepared for people to react really, really negatively when you mention wanting to stop your periods. You'll get the "BUT IT'S NOT NAAAAATURAL!" argument a lot. It's just one of those topics where people feel entitled to tell you why what you're doing is wrong without any idea of the scientific or medical facts involved. (Similar to the anti-low-carb zealots.)
posted by web-goddess at 12:32 AM on May 2, 2006

Sorry to interrupt as a male, but I have always found it amazing how the medical profession insists on the monthly cycle routine. I had a gf who couldn't menstruate naturally but she was told to get a hormone OD _twice_ a year. Given that the natural state for women not so long ago was to breed much more than today and hence not to menstruate, I just cannot see how the once-a-month myth is still perpetuated. Maybe one of the MDs here can give us a clue?
posted by keijo at 12:42 AM on May 2, 2006

adult human women are designed

Not according to any scientific theory.
posted by grouse at 12:48 AM on May 2, 2006

My friend is on the ring and loves it for its constant stream of hormones.

But the perk of the pill is - you never have to have your period.

DP has been shown to have a lot of adverse effects.
posted by k8t at 2:25 AM on May 2, 2006

Some doctors support the period-skipping thing--I'm actually on birth control pills and am supposed to skip my periods (endometriosis), so I throw out the last week of every pack. I've been doing this for a few years now and as far as I can tell haven't suffered any adverse side effects. I do occasionally get spotting if I forget to take my pill, but generally life without periods is pretty awesome.

I don't know how this works for the Nuvaring, but period-skipping is certainly not harmful to one's health, and in some cases is actually beneficial.
posted by leesh at 4:02 AM on May 2, 2006

My ex-wife took the pill continuously for four years - no periods. No harm done - has two children now.
posted by A189Nut at 4:16 AM on May 2, 2006

I'm not opposed to occasional period skipping and I myself have done it a few times, usually for special occassions (as I will be doing for my wedding next week).

However, I am totally against never letting yourself bleed.

I have never spoken with my doctor about this, but have heard from other people that it's not bad for you to skip one or two a year. My opposition to constant skipping comes from a belief that your body does what it needs to to keep you healthy. If we get too hot, we sweat to keep our bodies from overheating. Our periods are a way of disposing of unused eggs and shedding the uterine wall. It is inbuilt into our systems and I think that means it's an important thing for our health and general well being.

Ranglin's Missus
posted by ranglin at 4:17 AM on May 2, 2006

I only try to have periods maybe 4 times a year. Maybe I should stop doing that.
posted by k8t at 4:41 AM on May 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, you don't actually have your period at all when you're on the pill. What happens during the pill-free interval is called "withdrawal bleeding," and it's not the same thing as a normal menstrual period. In order to actually have your period, you'd have to go off the pill entirely and reestablish a normal cycle. So regardless of how you take your pills, you're still not going to have your period.
posted by footnote at 5:12 AM on May 2, 2006

My opposition to constant skipping comes from a belief that your body does what it needs to to keep you healthy.

If this were true, no one would ever get sick and die, because our body would keep itself healthy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:23 AM on May 2, 2006 [2 favorites]

I'm on NuvaRing and I just started using it to skip periods a couple of months ago. No problems so far.
posted by MsMolly at 5:33 AM on May 2, 2006

ranglin's missus's comment is exactly the type of absolutist naysaying I was referring to, nakedsushi, and you're going to hear a lot of it if you go ahead with your plan. Again, I urge those of you who haven't read any research on amenorrhoea - and yet somehow feel "strongly" that it's a bad idea - to read the linked articles above.

The analogy comparing menstruation to sweating seems kind of, uh, funny to me. If you're taking some sort of birth control to suppress ovulation, you don't have an egg or a uterine lining to get rid of. A more apt comparison might be vomiting, I think. Sure, the body has a method of getting rid of stuff it doesn't want or doesn't need, but most people would agree it's better to avoid being in that situation in the first place, right? It's painful, it's biologically wasteful... but hey, it's NATURAL, isn't it? Not a convincing argument in favor.

I get the feeling that a lot of people who insist on respecting the body's "natural functions" actually have a secret fear that things are "backing up" and you're clogging the pipe or something. When really, you're just eliminating the need to flush them out in the first place. Or something. I'm not a plumber.

Just so I don't sound 100% anti-period, I will add that I've had one negative side effect: slight loss of libido. Of course, the fact that I'm not huddled up against a heating pad and downing sixteen ibuprofen a day for five days each month rather makes up for that, I think. (Of course, that might be more the fault of the Depo than amenorrhoea in general.)
posted by web-goddess at 5:36 AM on May 2, 2006

I just saw my GYN yesterday, and the direct quote was, "With this ["this" happening to be my Mirena IUD] you might not get a period at all after a while, and that's just fine. Don't worry about it unless it bothers you."

However, I have read that the ring carries an even higher risk of blood clots than the regular old pill, so you might want to consult your doctor before finalizing the decision simply because of that. Otherwise, web-goddess is right, at least according to my doctor.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:41 AM on May 2, 2006

Again, I urge those of you who haven't read any research on amenorrhoea - and yet somehow feel "strongly" that it's a bad idea - to read the linked articles above.

You mean the articles that you posted before? From the illustrious and totally reliable newspaper sources? Wow, your ability to identify academic research astounds me! Have you ever considered that the appropriate place to find an honest medical opinion might be a medical journal, rather than a couple of sensationalist newspaper articles where the journalist gets paid by the word?

Before getting on your high horse and accusing my wife of being an absolutist naysayer, maybe you should consider finding some reputable sources! All I've seen so far is a set of anecdotal accounts of what happened to women who've stopped taking breaks from the pill. I think it would be much more useful for the OP if someone posted some actual evidence (and two newspaper articles and a crappy blog entry don't count)!

At least my wife had the sense to couch her opinion with "it's my belief", which is more than I can say for your elitest response.
posted by ranglin at 6:03 AM on May 2, 2006

Our periods are a way of disposing of unused eggs and shedding the uterine wall

Most birth control pills work by suppressing ovulation. And you only "need" to shed the uterine wall when your body has built it up in preparation for implantation of a fertilized egg (which is greatly reduced or eliminated when on most pills).
posted by biscotti at 6:31 AM on May 2, 2006

Birth control gives you time off for a period because the pill was invented by a Catholic. That's pretty much all there is to it.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:43 AM on May 2, 2006

I started Depo right around when I was 18, over a decade ago, since then I have had two periods when I decided to switch to the pill for a couple of monthes. My only thoughts were "how barbaric". Once you get used to not having a period, it seems that much more intrusive when you do.

BTW, seconding what everyone else has said, you don't shed what you don't build up, its not like you develop a big back up in there.
posted by stormygrey at 6:53 AM on May 2, 2006

I asked my doctor about this also - I am on regular pills. She said there wouldn't be a problem with skipping periods if I was comfortable doing so, and that if I had any problems (bloating, spotting, etc) to go see her.

One thing that influenced me from doing this is that my insurance wouldnt renew my pill prescription too much before my last ones run out - if my renewal schedule was suddenly shortened from 12 weeks to 9 weeks, my insurance wouldn't cover my costs - they borked when I went in at 10 weeks to get my new set of pills because I happened to be in the area and had some time. Now that I'm not covered by insurance anymore and paying prescriptions out of pocket, I may start choosing to skip more periods. Not sure if this is an issue for you, nakedsushi, but you may want to check before you start (so you aren't stuck for 3 weeks without BC coverage).
posted by Cyrie at 7:07 AM on May 2, 2006

Question for you guys taking non-stop pills to skip your period... how does this work with your insurance? Or does it? My prescription coverage for birth control only cover one pack per month. If I try to get a pack sooner (like before I go on vacation), I have to pay full price ($35 versus $5).

So as I understand some of you, you are skipping the "fake pills" on the last week, and starting a new pack every three weeks. Is your insurance company more lenient? Or are you just paying full price or going to a clinic for your pills?

I so want to do this, but the cost could be preventative.
posted by kimdog at 7:10 AM on May 2, 2006

ranglin - I can't find all of the full papers online, but go to the nearest college library and look them up. Incredible as it seems, the [many] newspaper articles on this topic didn't make it all up wholesale. Rather, they took their data from papers like the following [by two of the people most frequently quoted on the topic]:

Eaton, S. B., Pike, M. C., Short, R. V., Lee, N. C., Trussell, J., Hatcher, R. A., Wood, J. W., Worthman, C. M., Jones, N. G., Konner, M. J., Hill, K. R., Bailey, R. and Hurtado, A. M. (1994). Women’s Reproductive Cancers in Evolutionary Context. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 69: 353-363.

Strassmann, B. I. (1997). The biology of menstruation in Homo sapiens: Total lifetime menses, fecundity, and nonsynchrony in a natural-fertility population. Current Anthropology, 38: 123-129.

Strassmann, B. I. (1999). Menstrual Cycling and Breast Cancer: An evolutionary Perspective. Journal of Women’s Health, 8: 193-202.

Eaton, S. B. et al Evolutionary Health Prevention. Prev Med. 2002 Feb;34(2):109-18.

Most people who aren't research scientists get their basic information from, yes, newspaper articles, most of which aren't particularly sensationalistic [although they aren't necessarily great interpretations of the research either.] If you spend some time on Google or SciFinder or Web of Science or what have you, however, it's almost always possible to find the original sources. Perhaps you shouldn't be so dismissive either - after all, web-goddess at least referred to articles about actual research [if not the original research itself], while your wife spoke only of a 'belief' she has.
posted by ubersturm at 7:23 AM on May 2, 2006

Doesn't Seasonale (the pill with which you only get your period four times a year) basically do what some of you have done by skipping the last week of pills for a few months? If skipping a week isn't feasible insurance-wise, kimdog, maybe you can get a prescription for Seasonale. Also, the fact that there's an FDA-approved birth control pill that limits your periods to four times a year seems like further support for the idea that skipping periods for a few months with Nuvaring or regular BC pills is probably fine.
posted by amro at 7:25 AM on May 2, 2006

This is slightly off topic, but I am also on NuvaRing, and my period starts regardless of whether I remove the ring or not. It's always right on time. Does this happen to anyone else?
posted by smich at 7:35 AM on May 2, 2006

Just to offer a more moderate point of view, I sometimes use my pills to skip a period for convenience sake--vacation, doctor's appointment, etc. I've never had a problem. But I usually go ahead and have it most months--I like the assurance that I'm not preggers. I understand those that complain about especially bad periods though--I had them before I was on the pill. Now I hardly notice.

kimdog, I used to be on insurance that was especially strict about the every four weeks thing. But I was able to get a 3-month vacation supply when I went out of the country. You should check into whether your insurance has a once-a-year vacation supply option for when you go away. I did have to call back and forth between my pharmacy and insurance company though, because though the insurance company insisted I was entitled, the pharmacy claimed they called the insurance company about it and it was denied. Turned out the pharmacy was just lazy and full of shit--they hadn't called, they'd just tried to put it through the computer as usual.

For a while I got my pills from planned parenthood, which was $20/pack for name brand and you could get as many as you want (within the confines of your Rx). I haven't tested my current insurance...but I've gotten them pretty early in my fourth week without any trouble.
posted by lampoil at 7:35 AM on May 2, 2006

smich, do you mean you put a new ring in after three weeks, and you still get your period, or do you mean you just leave the ring in for the fourth week and get your period?

If it's the latter, it seems obvious--the ring only has three weeks worth of dosage in it. (Right? I'm not on the ring).
posted by lampoil at 7:39 AM on May 2, 2006

kimdog: I skip two periods out of three (with the advice and consent of my gyn), and it was initially tricky with my insurance. Most insurance plans won't expect you to wait until the absolute last day to pick up your prescription...I think my plan gives me a week. So I wait until the very last day of the active pills and then go pick up a new pack that day or the morning of the day after. I've tried going in one day earlier and no dice, but this system seems to work out ok. My insurance company now prints an instruction on my prescription--contrary to my doctor's instructions--not to skip pills, which I think is fucked up, but it's worth the aggravation to only have 4 periods a year.
posted by gokart4xmas at 7:42 AM on May 2, 2006

Slightly more on-topic - anecdotally, gynecologists are generally happy to prescribe continuous birth control to people who have anemia, bad cramping, etc. As seen in this thread, many don't even have a problem with people using continuous birth control just to avoid the bother of menstruation, even if they have no medical problems. I know several people who're going this route. It's well worth talking to your doctor about - all of them are very satisfied. Whether or not continuous use is possible with NuvaRing, I don't know.
posted by ubersturm at 7:46 AM on May 2, 2006

For further info, any one whose interested should check out the website No Period which was created by an actual doctor. Also, there is a book called Take Control of Your Period, written by a doctor. I don't vouch for the quality of either one of these.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:57 AM on May 2, 2006

I am on Seasonale. I love it. Like amro said, it gives you a period four times a year. It is the best thing ever. I don't think there is anything wrong with using birth control pills to skip your periods altogether. Research has been done regarding hormonal contraception and avoiding periods. (scroll down to "Choosing Amenorrhea") Besides that, regular, monthly menstruation is a relatively modern concept.

kimdog - one pack of Seasonale (three months worth) actually costs less than three packs of Ortho Tri-Cyclen (my previous pill). My insurance company (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois) has absolutely no problem with it, but I think they may be a bit progressive.
posted by MeetMegan at 8:00 AM on May 2, 2006

This Scarleteen post basically sums up my concerns with this, though some of those concerns are with hormonal birth control in general. In any event, might be worth reading, if you're looking for counterarguments.

And for what it's worth, diet and exercise changes made a *huge* difference in my physical PMS. When I started exercising regularly (3x week, mostly yoga) and cutting back on fried foods, red meats, and carbs (not cutting them out completely or changing my diet radically, just not getting take-out Chinese quite so much), especially right before my period, I went from popping pills every 2 hours to deal with cramps and bloating and general "please kill me know" to no PMS other than the occasional weepy overreaction.

I lean toward the hippy-dippy side, always, but it seems that if you can control or eliminate PMS naturally, why not try that before loading up your body with extra drugs? Obviously, there are cases where "Oh, just eat more salads" is facile inappropriate advice, and if it's that severe a medical problem then of course you should look for medical solutions, but I think we're often too eager to apply medical solutions before exploring lifestyle changes.
posted by occhiblu at 8:20 AM on May 2, 2006

However, I have read that the ring carries an even higher risk of blood clots than the regular old pill, so you might want to consult your doctor before finalizing the decision simply because of that.

Really? My doc told me the exact opposite. In fact, that's a big part of why she switched me (smoker, mid-20s) to it from the pill.

Personally, although I don't skip (I do like the monthly confirmation that I am not one of the miraculous 1% that gets pregnant even with birth control), I do go four weeks with the ring and one without so it isn't quite as frequent.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:22 AM on May 2, 2006

(Oh, and for diet changes: Also seeking out hormone-free dairy and meat products. There's reason to believe that the higher and higher levels of hormones women are getting from their food is contributing to the earlier onset of menses in our population; you may want to limit the amount of estrogen and fake-estrogen you're ingesting in your food, if you feel your hormones are already out-of-whack enough that you're getting severe PMS.)
posted by occhiblu at 8:25 AM on May 2, 2006

Kelly, that's really weird, because I remember that the ring is specifically NOT recommended for women who have a history of blood clots in their families. there was this ask thred a while back.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:40 AM on May 2, 2006

Ugh, I've been a pill skipper for 10 years now. I try to go off the pill a few times a year.

This week is one of those weeks and I have to say, for the last year or 2, the cramps have been a bitch.

I'm switching pills next week tho (different country, different pill) - maybe there will be a difference?
posted by k8t at 9:26 AM on May 2, 2006

I also do something else dumb - whenever I have a doctor's appointment and the nurse asks about my last period, I lie and say "oh, the 15th of last month."

why do I lie about this?
posted by k8t at 9:27 AM on May 2, 2006

Oh, and to get around insurance, I just try to go to the doctor a month or 2 early... or I lie about going abroad for a few months and needed extra.
posted by k8t at 9:28 AM on May 2, 2006

I'm another vote for Seasonale. I take the pink pills for three months, and then one week of white. I can even time it so that I know I will get my period at 2:30 on Wednesday (or can change that to Friday or Saturday if I want to, depending on when I start the white pills). The cramps are killer, but mine always were, so I just count on four weekends a year of I'm-going-to-be-irrational-don't-bother-me-while-I-watch-movies-on-the-couch-and-don't-ask-me-for-anything. Makes for a much happier me and much happier husband. I have a significant family history of cancer, especially breast cancer and I did my research. I feel totally at ease about this decision and I love it.
posted by orangemiles at 9:44 AM on May 2, 2006

I do the continuous pill thing and my health insurance company has my doctor write the prescription for a 3 month supply (4 packs) that says something to the extent of "dispense 4 packs, take pills continuously for 90 days, skip placebo". For this I pay 3 copays, one for each of the months.

It also works that way if one's doctor prescribes Seasonale - one would pay 3 months of copays for a 90 day supply.

[Even better was when I was able to mail order them under my old plan - I only had to pay 2 copays for the 3 month supply]
posted by superkim at 10:10 AM on May 2, 2006

If your doctor writes the prescription the way superkim explains: "take four packs continuously, skip placebos until last pack" or something to that effect, the insurance company will dispense as required.
posted by barnone at 10:33 AM on May 2, 2006

My wife has been on Ortho 7/7/7 for about twenty years. She seldom has any spotting, let alone a full-on period. Her doctors over the years, both male and female, have been cool with it. She loves not having the cramps and mess.

So, speaking for my wife, I'd say she'll tell you "Good god, do it!"
posted by five fresh fish at 11:22 AM on May 2, 2006

I just saw that my Scarleteen link was bad. Sorry. Corrected link here; and from the entry:

But this isn't about helping some women, many of these pro-cessation approaches: it's about suggesting, very dogmatically, that it is not natural or healthy for women's bodies to do what they natrually do; that women's bodies and lives would -- unilaterally -- be better if they didn't operate like... women's bodies. (And again, we don't have any broad or long-term data which supports that yet.)

That's a pretty dangerous premise to put out there, especially without long-term data about things like this, and a hasty premise that has been at the toor of a LOT of approaches which have, in the past, proved hazardous to women (even very recently, with things like Depo-Provera, Norplant and some types of hormone therapy for menopausal women).

posted by occhiblu at 11:46 AM on May 2, 2006

I've been using continuous oral contraceptives to eliminate periods for about five years. I love it and wouldn't go back. My insurance almost always pays for the 3-week cycle; my pharmacist knows how my plan and cycle work, and helps me by holding off on the billing a couple of days when necessary. I highly recommend doing this, as does my OB/GYN, who also does it.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 12:18 PM on May 2, 2006

Occhiblu, naturally women have sex with NO birth control at all and spend most of their lives pregnant.

Whether you bleed or not is just a distraction from that fact.
posted by dagnyscott at 12:27 PM on May 2, 2006

That.... doesn't really make any sense; I'm not following your argument. And I think it's breastfeeding, in any event, not pregnancy, that would keep most women from having their periods in the wild, as it were.

Naturally, women don't take daily doses of hormones, either. Claiming that doing so follows a "natural" cycle because it stops bleeding, when the bleeding would actually "naturally" be stopped due to something else, doesn't really follow.

If people are comfortable taking year-round hormonal birth control, then that's obviously their choice. There are plenty of doctors and studies that will back them up. But there were plenty of doctors and studies that backed up Hormone Replacement Therapy as well, and that came crashing down. Ditto for Norplant, and the patch. I think there are extremely valid reasons for being cautious about experimenting with our bodies when there's not reliable long-term data (like, what happens after a women does this for 20 years? 40 years?) on the side effects and consequences of that experimenting.
posted by occhiblu at 12:45 PM on May 2, 2006

That's to ubersturm (and others) for picking up the baton on the medical research issue. This damn Australian time difference makes it difficult to respond quickly.

For what it's worth, ranglin, I didn't respond negatively to your missus's opinion because she disagreed with me. It was because she flat out stated that she hasn't even talked to her doctor about it; she just has a strong negative feeling about it. I'm perfectly willing to concede that the research isn't 100% just yet, and the points occhiblu raises are perfectly valid. The effects of long-term amenorrhea due to birth control aren't well-known just yet. (And there are definitely issues that have cropped up with various forms of contraception, such as the Depo-calcium issue.) I just think nakedsushi is better off learning what research has been done and deciding for herself what's best for her, rather than just going by a vague feeling and running with it. And I'm just a little sensitive because my own experience has been filled with women who find out that I don't have periods and react as if I've just told them I had a penis.
posted by web-goddess at 1:55 PM on May 2, 2006

occhiblu - I suspect that dagnyscott's point is that pretty much anything a first-world woman does is likely to be unnatural, unless she's constantly pregnant or breastfeeing. With monthly menstruation, the unnatural hormone levels come from within rather than without, but they follow a cycle unlike the cycle womens' bodies evolved to deal with - an innovation that's thought to result in anemia, increases in certain sorts of cancer, etc. [not to mention monthly discomfort or even illness in many women.] Contraceptive hormones are primarily the same hormones, although they come from without. The suggestion is that continual usage of hormonal contraception [which, in a way, feigns certain aspects of pregnancy, fooling the body] may be overall somewhat closer to physiologically 'natural' than monthly menstruation. Not the same, but closer. Obviously, scientists should run long-term studies on woman taking continuous doses of contraceptive hormones to skip periods - but one of the points of scientists like Strassmann is that we've effectively been running a long-term experiment on women by assuming that women should menstruate every month, and that the results of that experiment suggest that there are some fairly negative side effects.
posted by ubersturm at 3:34 PM on May 2, 2006

FYI, The Nuvaring actually has 4 weeks of hormones in it. You can skip periods by just leaving it in for the 4th week, then just switching out for a new one.

I've done it, and had no bleeding during that week where my period would have been. The next period was a little heavier than usual, but not too bad.
posted by antimony at 4:57 PM on May 2, 2006

A former partner hated having periods so she stopped. At various times she was on merina implant, depo provera, and the pill. She is a registered nurse. She never had a single problem - I hated that bastard merina thing though, whatever the doctors may have thought, it could be felt, and wasn't terribly nice.

Recently she decided to have a baby, and now she's pregnant - no drama whatever.
posted by The Monkey at 5:58 PM on May 2, 2006

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