I was just watching a documentary film and I saw an OBGYN talking about her patients getting on the birth control pill and staying on it for years because of a period problem. They would get on it to get rid of a problem they had like heavy bleeding, cramps, irregular periods and more.
This was due to the fact that they saw that they had a symptom (like cramps. heavy bleeding, PCOS, endometriosis, or one of the other many female issues) and decided that they needed help for it. Their doctor suggested hormonal birth control.
I think that there’s something really important that we (collectively) have been shoving under the rug for quite some time when it comes to women’s health:
It’s not normal to have period problems.
I feel like that should be obvious, but it’s not. I’m not saying I always knew that it wasn’t normal. I didn’t. I’m just saying that everyone SHOULD know that period problems are not normal instead of thinking that they are. That has led to a lot of issues.
Issue #1) When we think a period problem is a normal part of being a woman, that reinforces the cultural norm that a woman’s body is broken and that they are difficult/impossible to understand.
If women’s bodies are supposed to f*ck up, and they are supposed to bring pain and suffering, is it any wonder that women are thought of as incapable of doing jobs because of their periods (if you don’t believe this is still a thing, just check the comments on the articles about the companies giving women menstrual leave. You will find them full of jabs about this being the reason women are second rate in the workplace and don’t make as much as men)? That they are considered irrational?
In addition, as women we are less likely to trust and love our bodies if we feel like they are wronging us, especially if we feel like there is nothing we can do about it and we just have a broken body.
Issue #2) We symptom suppress instead of getting to the root of the issues (because we don’t realize there is a root of the issue).
This is why many doctors have no idea how to treat a hormonal imbalance. It’s a combination of the easy accessibility of the pill, which gives you the appearance of normal cycles even though they are not, and the fact that the thought of a woman having problems with her menstrual cycle is not cause for concern.
We need to understand that the normal state of our periods and entire menstrual cycle is to be healthy. There is nothing inherently broken or apt to go wrong with it. When you have healthy hormones you don’t have period problems.
I’m not saying there is never a place for symptom suppression or drugs, there is. But most of them time we have someone go on drugs as a first measure against something that isn’t severely life threatening or quality-of-life threatening. To medicate yourself against your body without even understanding why it’s doing what it’s doing? Not ok.
Issue #3) Women think that they need to be medicated. Constantly.
There are a number of things to treat period problems, including exaggerated psychological issues. I don’t mean exaggerated as in the woman is exaggerating them, I mean the psychological changes can be there, but should not feel like an issue in your day to day life. If they do, they are “exaggerated”.
Just because it’s not normal to have period problems, that doesn’t mean that if you are experiencing an issue with your cycles you need medication, there are many ways to naturally treat any kind of reproductive dysfunction.
That means you don’t “need” to be on hormonal birth control if you don’t want to be. You don’t need to take “female viagra”. You don’t need to take anti-depressants because of PMDD.
Feeling like you need constant drugs to keep your body happy is not a way to feel empowered.
Overall, period problems can be a way of seeing that our health is not top notch at the time. They are not normal and should not be treated like they are no big deal. It is normal to feel healthy and happy with your body and your period, and it’s quite possible to get to that place, even without drugs. Will it always be easy to fix period problems? No. But for a good majority of people it will be, and it’s certainly never impossible.