Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Now I Know (about menstruation)

There's a post from a few days ago over at Media Girl about menstrual suppression. Considering myself a type of menstrual activist (I'm very fond of knitted uteruses, tampon dolls and GladRags) it gave me a lot to think about. Rather, kind of stew over. To me, calling myself a menstual activist means that I actively engage in writings on menstruation. That I look at medication that is used for menstruation with a critical eye. I've learned not to just take in doctor's advice without questioning it. Some of the things that I think about is how the medical community hasn't quite taken the time to know the menstrual cycle as well as they maybe should, so when we use synthetic hormones that suppresses the cycle, how does it affect the rest of your body? I'm informed about (and hope to soon partake in) cervical self-exam, do not consume dioxin laced menstrual products, but rather use Gladrags or make my own pads.

You may be thinking: too much personal information. I choose to write about this here, because it's important. It's a health issue that's taken for granted.

First of all, it needs to be said: when you're on The Pill, you don't menstruate. When women on the pill bleed, it's withdrawal bleeding from the drug. Therefore, you are not having a menstrual cycle. When people talk about Seasonal and mention that they only have their period four times a year, they aren't. They have withdrawal bleeding. So when people bring up the point that nowadays we are getting our periods earlier and having them more often because we aren't pregnant as long, it's misleading, because you are not having your period whenever you take any incarnation of the pill.

Second, I'm not completely anti-pill, or anti-hormonal method. I like the ease of it all, the autonomy that it gives women. I just want more research and information. There's a lot of questions that need to be asked and answered. The other methods that are out there, such as barrier methods, need to be talked about as well. We need to get over the squeamishness of our bodies so that barrier methods can be a realistic option for women who don't want to use the pill or have access to it. One of the barrier methods, the cervical cap, is no longer available because so few women use it. One of the points of the article is that women don't have to be "slaves to biology" or that women are thought of as weird or crazy if they don't want to have their period. I feel that the opposite is true: one time I tried to bring up menstruation as a plus in my Biology of Human Sexuality class, to which my teacher looked at me dumbfoundedly. She basically then told me that she wasn't aware of any woman who liked having their period. I admit that I'm not too fond of it either, but I believe that our societal perception of menstruation greatly influences me. I also experience a lot of pain, on which I tried taking The Pill, in order to deal with it, but unfortunately it didn't help.

I think further discussion of these issues is important: we need to take care of our health, we need access to affordable, convieniet birth control methods, we need to feel like having a female body isn't a disability.

If you're interested, check out this book.

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