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May 22, 2006

End of the period?

Usually a period ends a sentence. But now, we're talking about something that could end the sentence of a period.

An AP article (via Drudge) posits that "Menstruation Is Fast Becoming Optional."

TRENTON, N.J. - For young women with a world of choices, even that monthly curse, the menstrual period, is optional.

Thanks to birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives, a growing number of women are taking the path chosen by 22-year-old Stephanie Sardinha.

She hasn't had a period since she was 17.

"It's really one of the best things I've ever done," she says.

A college student and retail worker in Lisbon Falls, Maine, Sardinha uses Nuvaring, a vaginal contraceptive ring. After the hormones run out in three weeks, she replaces the ring right away instead of following instructions to leave the ring out for a week to allow bleeding. She says it has been great for her marriage, preventing monthly crankiness and improving her sex life.

"I would never go back," said Sardinha, who got the idea from her aunt, a nurse practitioner.
But aren't there risks in pursuing this approach?
Most doctors say they don't think suppressing menstruation is riskier than regular long-term birth control use, and one survey found a majority have prescribed contraception to prevent periods. Women have been using the pill for nearly half a century without significant problems, but some doctors want more research on long-term use.
Apparently, you have to leave it to a wackjob academic to offer some appropriate caution as an antidote to this utopia.
The period is "way over-romanticized," says Linda Gordon, a New York University professor specializing in women's history and the history of sexuality.

"It doesn't take long for women to go from being excited about having a period to feeling it's a pain in the neck," said Gordon, author of "The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America."

She says caution is needed because there's not enough data on long-term consequences of using hormones continuously. Gordon notes menopausal women for years were told that hormone drugs would keep them young — until research uncovered unexpected risks.

"People should proceed very cautiously," she says.
I will be cautious, too -- but not so cautious as to avoid raising some important issues here. First, the article unfortunately neglects the important halachic issues this raises, like: If women stop having periods, what's the mikva lady going to do with her spare time?

Second, what are all the marriage counselors going to do for a living if women don't get irritable on a regular basis, and if men have nothing to blame their wife's irritation on, other than what's really causing it, namely the men themselves?

Last, if women stop having periods, one thing you can be sure of is that no one will mock the guy who created the Museum of Menstruation, because it will then deserve a museum.

Related: Ace wrote about something similar in March. Allah says women are turning into men (and men into women -- check that photo). As for the blogs I'm not familiar with: Jessica at notes that this news story gives her an excuse to post a picture of a stuffed tampon. (More things I didn't know existed.) Carl at Simply Left Behind ends his post on the subject by saying, "Oh yeah. I forgot. Our President doesn't give a shit." I kid you not.