For most women, one week a month brings mood swings, cravings, bloating and general irritation. Your period as part of the female reproductive cycle serves an important purpose. It cleanses the uterus of unnecessary lining when another month goes by without getting pregnant. But if you aren’t trying to become pregnant, is it really necessary to have a period?
Understanding the System
The female reproductive system is a cycle. Every 28-30 days on average, a female’s body thickens the lining of the uterus, releases an egg to be fertilized and then waits for that egg to land on an implant in the uterus to begin a pregnancy. If the egg doesn’t arrive, the lining is shed through the period, and the cycle begins anew.
When birth control pills were first developed in the 1960s, they were designed to give the female body twenty-one days of active hormones and then seven days of sugar pills. When the body was off the active hormone, it went through withdrawal bleeding. This twenty-eight day cycle mimics the body’s natural rhythms, and the arrival of a woman’s period every month let her know that she was not pregnant, despite the use of the pills. But the body is not preparing for pregnancy while on the pill, there is no actual thickening of the lining since the hormones prevent it.
So there is not really a need for bleeding. The levels of hormones that are given to women during the twenty-one days have been redistributed by some brands of birth control pills to twenty-eight days. This means there will not be a week of withdrawal bleeding, and the body will remain on the small dose of hormones all month long.
This effectively does away with periods for as long as the woman stays on this style of birth control pills. There is simply no reason to have a period as the body is not actually working through the normal reproductive system while on the pill. Many doctors are encouraging patients to do away with periods entirely or limit them to four times per year simply because they can, and there is no reason to deal with the drama of a period if you don’t need to.
Are No Periods Safe?
The primary concern of patients is the safety of the continuous pills. They wonder if there is something wrong with skipping your period entirely as it simply seems unnatural. And it is somewhat unnatural, but so are any birth control pills. There is nothing unsafe about the pills.
Most women feel comfortable with standard birth control pills with twenty-one days of hormone laced supplements. What they fail to realize is that the period you have while on the pill is not the same kind of period you have when off of it. The period following the twenty-one day pill regime is caused by the absence of hormones, not a biological need.
So by making the pills of the twenty-one day cycle slightly less powerful, and putting hormones into the formerly placebo pills, your body is still receiving roughly the same amount of hormones, but now it is on the hormones constantly eliminating any bleeding and keeping women period free by choice.