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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Safer Sex & Birth Control » The End of The Period??? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: The End of The Period???
puppysrcute
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What do you think about this?
http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/health/article.jsp?content=20051213_117621_117621

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Heather
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That, in general, we don't have the long-term data to have any idea if this is wise or damaging to women, and until we do, I'm not (and Scarleteen by association) going to get behind it.

I think one can't dismiss that in a patriarchal culture it benefits...well, the patriarchy, and all that's driven by it -- for women's bodies to be more "manageable." More like male bodies. Even in that piece, that any woman "doesn't have time," says a whole lot about how very much this system doesn't work well for women sometimes. (Plus that gynecologist, changing her tampon every couple hours -- why the heck doesn't she know about something like the Divacup, which you can leave in all day? Is she a gynecologist practicing under a rock?)

We also know that menstruation is NOT frivolous. For instance, it helps flush the vagina of bacteria, as mentioned in that article. And comparing how many periods a woman has now compared to hundreds of years ago -- whe the lifespan was considerably smaller, when childbirth carried high threats of death, when things like STIs were not as prevalent, is fallacious, as is presuming that how the body acts when cessation of periods is due to pregnancy, and how it acts when that cessation is chemical, would be identical or even similar.

And quotes like this?

quote:
The upside, however, is potentially enormous, says Miller. "Imagine the freedom to go swimming anytime," she says, "You can wear a skirt with no underwear. You can have sex without thinking about blood on the sheets. You never get anything stained. Every day your hormones are the same. Your breasts aren't tender, you don't feel ovulatory pains. It's a modern problem to have 13 periods a year for 35 years. I think the continuous pill is a modern solution to a modern problem."

Are just bloody (no pun intended) offensive. I can go swimming anytime I want when I'm menstruating, with or without use of tampons, pads or cups. I can go without underwear whenever I choose, and being able to do so is hardly a huge issue in my life as a woman anyway. I don't WANT my hormone fluctuations to be controlled by drugs, anymore than a man would (do we have pills yet or lobbies to control THEIR cycles? Gee, I wonder why not? So happy to see someone mention that for a change at the end of this piece). And they can't do that anyway: exercise alone causes hormone fluctuations. Sex does. A million things do: and the pill, no matter how used, cannot make all the hormones in my body be the same every day. That's just a patently false statement that makes that doc sound like an ignoramus.

My sheets get stained from sex, from sweat, even when no one is menstruating: that's some of why I WASH them. And I'm not so delicate a critter that the occasional ovulatory niggle or tender breast is painful: lordy, I lost half a HAND as a kid, I box, I transport myself by bike, rather than car. My breasts get tender with sexual arousal, for crying out loud; my uterus contracts with orgasm. Statements like this smack of a sort of Victorian approach to women that sounds like a benefit to us, but is a pretty sneaky sell. My life has been so complex, so busy, so full of so many challenges and hardships: menstruation -- even during years for me where it was painful -- doesn't even make the list. In fact, I was put on the pill very young for menstrual pain (before we had things like Ibuprofen or a lot of easily-available natural remedies; before I could choose what I ate to make a huge dent in menstrual pain with simple dietary changes) and very gladly went off of it in college because I wanted my own body back, and found other approaches worked just as well without robbing me of it.

Moreover, it is not a "modern problem" to have 13 periods a year, save that now, women have way more freedom to CHOOSE not to get pregnant. Thjis wasn't a "problem" before, both because women didn't have access to reliable birth control AND because many women couldn't even say no to sex when they didn't want it. I'd say having more autonomy to choose when we do or don't become pregnant, based on our wants, and when we do and don't want sex, is nothing close to a problem.

Our culture already tries to take so much of women's body-as-is away from us, and this just has always seemed like one more attempt to take more. Women's bodies have been blamed for a host of ills for forever and day, because it's always easier to "fix" women than to fix a culture which we threaten, which doesn't have room for us, or which we complicate by not being men.

(It's also interesting to note that this is being pushed because of women menstruating earlier, rather than people investigating and looking to fix WHY, like the likely-contibutors of pesticides and preservatives and hormones in food, the limitation of which would make a huge dent in profits from some of the richest lobbies and businesses around.)

Heh. Suffice it to say, I have some very strong feelings about this. What I've said here is icebrg-tippy.

------------------
Heather Corinna
Editor & Founder, Scarleteen
ST blog • about Heather & Scarleteen)

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-07-2005).]


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Heather
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(I just added this to the blog: http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/index.html)
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Karybu
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I for one will be on this as soon as it becomes available (I've got my fingers crossed the Canadian government will give it the ok, they're kinda picky). I saw all my friends start their periods before I did, and several years before I started menstruating I decided I wanted nothing to do with it. I still don't want anything to do with it, and even though some people may not agree with this new contraceptive, I'm really looking forward to it. No more periods would be an absolutely awesome change in my life, and I'm sure many other women feel the same way.
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Heather
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Just out of curiousity: would you feel the same way if the change this made also made changes like bone loss, which could cause you to have very limited mobility and much greater pain when you're post-menopausal through the rest of your life, when your body is less resilient to pain and discomfort, and when you will have a lot more stresses and daily life things to juggle than now?

Or if it meant serious problems with fertility in terms of irreversibility? Or bacterial or yeast infections more often? Greater STI risks?

Again, just curious and trying to understand where you're coming from.

I agree that I'm sure a lot of women feel the same way per cessating periods. I simply very much question WHY they feel that way, really where their feelings about menstruation are coming from, and if they're really seeing the big picture, both culturally and per their own lifelong health.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-07-2005).]


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DarkChild717
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It’s interesting, this idea of stopping a period. Western society is one of the only cultures that don’t celebrate a woman’s menses as a special, coming of age event. I think that’s one of the reasons that it is so reviled in Western society.

I’m also under the impression that this is in response to what advertisers have been telling us, as women, for the last century: your period is a shameful thing, and we must do what we can to hide it. Now they’re proposing to do away with it entirely. I don’t agree with that.

A period isn’t a big thing. It happens, you bleed, and life goes on. There are alternatives to commercial products (which I think are the spawn of Satan. Go organic tampons!), as Miz S mentioned. You’ve got fabric pads, natural sea-sponge tampons, in addition to natural organic cotton tampons, which I find to be the better option at this point in my life.

I also find it very interesting that in spite of medical attacks on hormonal birth control in the last decade, they’re introducing another. There’s the problems with Norplant, which was recalled, and now they’re finding negative long term effects with Ortho Evra, and the constant level of hormones.

I don’t know. I won’t use this product personally, nor do I know any one who would. But I am interested to see what will happen in ten years or so when long term studies can be done.


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Karybu
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Good question, Miz S. I honestly hadn't thought about that when I read the article; obviously if this new medication has the same sort of effects as Depo Provera in terms of bone loss, then I would probably be a little bit more hesitant to use it. But I'm really not sure if that would stop me from using it, no. The fertility issue would not even be a factor in my decision. I have never wanted children (heh, I never even played house when I was a kid, never wanted a baby doll to take care of), and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

To say something about why I hate getting my period so much, I suppose it's possible that some of how I feel is a result of cultural influence; obviously it's impossible to get away from that entirely. I must say though, that my mother and most of my health teachers throughout school emphasized that menstruation was a pretty cool thing, something that makes women unique. I did not share this point of view, and I remember begging my doctor not to do anything when I still hadn't gotten my period by the time I was 16. Basically, I spend a good chunk of every day in a leotard and tights (I'm in a small dance company), and my period interferes with that in a big way. I don't have as much energy and no matter how many painkillers I take my back still hurts. My period interferes with something I love to do for a solid week every month, and I would do pretty much anything to get rid of it.

Maybe I haven't explained myself very well; I guess what it boils down to for me is that pretty much as long as I can remember, I've thought it was ridiculous that I should have to put up with something that for me at least messes with my body in such a negative way.

[This message has been edited by karybu (edited 12-07-2005).]


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Heather
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Good contributions. Thanks!

Do you feel (sorry if it's like I'm interviewing you: this interests me, so feel free to tell me to shove off at any time) like what you see as the negatives DO totally offset the positives (like a healthier vagina per bacteria, for instance)? Or like stronger bones, especially if you dance: would being unable to do so or have dance be anything besides painful later in life change your mind?

Also, do you use standard menstrual products or alternative ones? And what is it that gets in the way per dance: if it's cramping and the energy levels, have you made lifestyle changes to offset that, like adapting your diet the week before and during your period? Like even working to switch your mindset so that you aren't anticipating pain and discomfort (in nearly all physical matters, that's often a huge issue with pain management and experience)? Like trying alternative treatments like acupuncture rather than painkillers, which can sometimes make cramping, bloating, discomfort more of a constant? Do you have any other existing conditions -- like PCOS or a hormonal imbalance -- that would make menstruating more difficult for you than most?

I think cultural attitudes are HUGE in this stuff, even if right around you, the attitudes are different. I know that I've crafted my life very much in a way where no one in their right mind is going to bring any woman-hating or female-body-loathing to my table, and where everyone around me tends to find a nice respite from that stuff. But that certainly did take a lot of work, and making a life for myself that put me outside the mainstream very intensely (and that's not just re: period stuff, but about a lot of pervasive attitudes I just won't have in my life because they are destructive to me or others), which has its own costs.

Also another curiousity: are you in classical dance? If so, do you think a lot of the usual attitudes there per the treatment of women's bodies have any effect on how you think about this?


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Karybu
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So many questions! (I assume your last post was directed to me, Miz S? If not, feel free to ignore everything I'm about to babble on about ) I don't mind answering any questions you can throw at me, I also find this whole discussion very interesting.

Ok, easiest one first: yes, I am in classical dance. I actually got most of my training in Minneapolis, which is where you live, I believe. Anyways, that's beside the point.

I'm not sure how the attitudes in that environment (one I pretty much grew up in) with regards to how women's bodies are treated really extend to this particular issue - honestly, men and women in ballet are met with pretty much the same expectations, which mostly have to do with weight and appearance, and I'm not sure I see the connection.

For me, what I see as the negatives really do outweigh the positives. I'm really not convinced that menstruation or lack thereof affects the rate of bacterial or yeast infections by a significant amount. As far as bone density and strength goes, I guess I'm in a pretty specific situation. It's unlikely I'll be able to dance for more than the next ten or so years anyway, due to past injuries. Unless the bone loss that may result from taking this medication seriously seriously affects me before then, it's doubtful it will be much of an issue.

Mostly, what gets in my way per dance is the fact that my energy level drops substantially. I'm a university student as well as a dancer, and having to write a paper, study for an exam, and make it through three hours of rehearsal when I can barely stay awake enough to concentrate? Not fun. Also, it's minor, but no matter what type of menstrual products I use, they leak. I really don't get why, but I do know that getting blood all over my favourite leotard is damned annoying.

I have tried changing my diet, I've cut out coffee completely for instance and I try to stay away from the simple carbs, dairy, red meat, etc but I can't really see any difference. I wish that made a difference! I hadn't thought about trying not to anticipate the discomfort or trying alternatives to painkillers though. (Can you suggest something other than acupuncture? Seriously afraid of needles, here.) As far as I know I'm healthy, and my periods have always been pretty pain-free, it's just the tiredness that really bothers me, to the point that I really would do pretty much anything to have some energy for that one week every month just so I could do everything I need to do!

Sorry this post turned out so long....I'll shut up now, but I hope I answered all your questions.


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Heather
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I'm just running off, so more tomorrow, but just wanted to let you know what I could about alternative methods for pain management, menstrual or otherwise.

Per acupuncture, it really so barely can be called needles. Not only are the acupuncture needles hair-thin, because of that, you can't even usually feel them going into the skin. Generally, you feel a little when your doctor adjusts them, and then can feel sensations in the body for areas they are stimulating (which is a weird feeling, because usually those areas are not where the needle even is, or anywhere close). But acupuncture is only one half of chinese medicine: generally, that is used in conjunction with some very potent herbal formulas.

Some types of massage and water therapy also help a lot of people. Too, corny as it may sound, working with mediation and breathing can make a huge difference when it comes to pain.

And with dietary changes -- that'd be what'd make a huge diff with energy levels, as often does chinese medicine -- those tend to take a lot of time: I'd say that expecting some changes after six months of ditching or limiting simple carbs, meat and dairy is about reasonable. I know for myself with the dairy (never really ate meat), it took over a year for some pretty overwhelming changes per menstrual stuff to happen. A friend of mine who just went back to eating dairy after two years away was shocked when she got her first period afterwards (with cramping, but also things like scent), because she'd never realized the big difference because it was so gradual.


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DarkChild717
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Per the dietary stuff...I recently cut gluten and chemicals out of my diet, and had irregularities for the first time in my menstrual history. I spotted, of all things. But when the period itself came on, it was lighter, and the same length really as they always have been.

It will be intersting to see the continuing changes, as far as my diet is concerned. I also stopped using hormonal birth control three months ago, so there's other changes because of that.

I second the massage idea. I had some problems when I worked in a stressful environment, and the weeks that followed my massages helped immensly.


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Heather
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Okay, awake, having my first cuppa, so just going to riff randomly on some of what you posted last night, karybu.

Per dance, I think having men involved and held to the same standards doesn't change much. For men, sure: it's one of the few environments where they are held to the same sort of often-impossible body standards women are. But those standards are still being applied to women, and per usual, things like menstruation make those standards even harder for us to fit. And that certainly comes into play with things like weight, as menstruation often causes fluctuations, bloating, etc.

I hear you per the dance on a pro level, but I'd assumed you enjoy it enough you'd want to be able to dance comfortably socially later in life, too. Bone density issues can be pretty intense: women with bone density problems and osteoporosis, for instance, will often break a hip FAR more easily than anyone else would, and a broken hip means big problems with even basic mobility for the rest of one's life (and sadly, studies on this show active women to be at greater risks). Cervical cancer -- which some studies have shown a pretty dramatic increase in pill-users with -- would also be a pretty big living-inhibition. And chronic vaginal infections, obviously -- whether you believe it's an issue or not, though based on how we know the vagina to self-clean, both cessation of menstruation AND the mucus thicking the pill creates do pose very likely barriers to that -- also very not fun.

Obviously, we all make choices, we weight risks, we weigh positive and geatives for us individually. I have a lot of political issues with this, because I think at its root, it's anti-woman stuff, I really do. But I recognize it's still personal choice. My big concern, though, is when something gets rushed through and okayed -- usually because of profit or it fitting the status quo so well; it says a lot that there are less health concerns about this than about EC, for instance -- without long-term data so people can make those choices really knowing WHAT they're opting into. I figure when we have a good, say, 20-30 year study following a substantial number of women doing this, I'll be far more able, given what's discovered, to tell women, politics aside, if it really is a safe choice.

And for young women, that's usually a bigger issue because most of us when we're young -- and hey, same was the case with me -- can't envision what, or even IF, our lives will be even so far as 30 or 40, let alone 60 or 70. It's easy to be more dismissive about long-term risks when you're young.

(Per the leaking, have you used a DivaCup yet? perhaps tried one in the second size, rather than the first? Another option is to use a diaphragm as a cup.)

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-08-2005).]


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Karybu
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I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. It's an interesting issue, though, and I'll definitely be following the long-term research that I'm sure will be done.

(As for the leaking, yes I have a Diva Cup, one in each size actually; it worked wonderfully the first couple of months and I thought my problem was solved, but now no matter what I do, it leaks. So annoying.)


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Ecofem
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To jump on the bandwagon of sharing personal experiences…

At almost 14, I got my period for the first time. (My two years younger sister got hers at the end of 11.) I would have cramps that would leave me almost unable to move.

At 17, I was basically forced to take hormonal birth control. I will leave out the details, but it was directly related to the hardest period of my life so far. I would intentionally miss pills and take too many, because I wanted to mess up my body, practically destroy my reproductive systems. This sounds really stupid, and it was, if just because it meant me vomiting.

There was no way I was going to have sexual contact with men for awhile, but I kept taking it because of the so-called beneficial side effects. While my face did clear up more (but no more than distressing stress, getting regular exercise, and applying topical medicine does), my “positive” side effects included my 32DD breasts getting bigger and getting practically suicidal depressed suddenly before my period. Not to mention made me feel non-sexual, which was a stark contrast to before. (I mean physiologically, although the traumatic experience surely played a role psychologically.)

When I was 19, I did a lot of research on ecofeminism (hence my moniker), which really got me thinking, such as how modern science and medicine “rape” women’s bodies in many regards. I finally stopped taking the Pill at age 20 and never want to go back.

Now at 22, I want to have a natural menstrual cycle: Regular vigorous exercise makes the cramps almost disappear, and I sort of like having my period. I feel like it’s a time for letting out and dealing with emotions I might not otherwise face head on, a fresh start, and I try even to appreciate the soreness and pain.

So, this is my eco-hippie-chick perspective now (although I sometimes have to gag over IDing myself that way knowing my past.) Five years ago, I would have belonged to the “kill-it-and-make-it-go-away-forever” club, so it’s definitely a very unexpected 180 turn around...

What especially really bothers me is how many doctors will recommend and encourage young teenage girls to go on such medicine without giving them a chance to see the downsides…


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Deunan Knute
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Very interesting, but I probably wouldn't use it myself. If my period's going to stop altogether it's going to be due to pregnancy or breastfeeding. Although, I do agree that having so many periods is a modern problem. A few hubdred years ago, women were usually pregnant or breastfeeding for most of their lives. Women were simply built to be constantly pregnant.
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Heather
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Whoah there: we have no reliable, sound reason to presume women were "built" to be constantly pregnant. I have no idea who put that idea into your head but....whoah is all I find continuing to come out of my mouth.

Medical data and history doesn't support that -- not by a serious long shot -- and lordisa, as a woman, I don't want anyone of any gender telling me what I was "built" for unless they actually built me themselves and have the blueprints in hand.

In fact, the majority of women who are and have been constantly pregnant tend not to be terribly healthy, and tend to live shorter lives than those who aren't. A few hundred years ago, a lot of why women were having less periods is that they were living half the lifespan we are now, often due to childbirth: only modern technology has made the radical decrease in stillbirths and maternal deaths over the last hundred years or so possible, not nature. Many women who are pregnant their whole lives also tend to be pretty stressed out and unhappy, and emotional life, intellectual life, social life is part of life. Plus, some women very clearly are NOT of bodies which childbirth or pregnancy is ideal for: it still kills and harms plenty, and just doesn't happen in plenty more. (Are they not women?)

Women do a LOT of different things with their lives, all of which we could have been "built" for. To make things plain, I don't want to hear anyone around here stating what women are "built" or made for, even if what you were saying was -- which it isn't -- supported by full concensus of all women, certified by some on-high maker or medicially or historically supported. I prefer to keep ST a sexism-free zone (and that's the case no matter a user's gender).

Just FYI? If your period is going to stop altogether -- not temporarily - it's going to be because of menopause, not pregnancy or lactation. And that'll happen kids or no kids.

Karybu: I gotcha. (And hey: I'm fine disagreeing with whatever personal choices any of us takes for our own bodies: where I get all uppity is when I hear doctors claming that any one thing -- especially something not proven to be safe, and which is LOADED with politics -- is best for all women.) And pill or no for you, I'm going to rack my brains to at least think of a good solution to your leak issues for you if it makes me kookoo. (Actually, I may just ping Madeline at Lunapads and see if she's got any ideas.)

Ecofem: interesting personal narrative, that.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-08-2005).]


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Karybu
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Oh wow. Miz S, I would love you forever if you could come up with a solution. If I'm stuck having my period for at least the next year or two at least, the more hassle-free, the better.
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Heather
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I'll do my best. Eternal love seems like a pretty hefty fee, though.

Howabout a lunapanties (very thin washable pads sewn right into panties -- and there is a thing-style which could potentially work with leotards) and Divacup combo? Have you tried that?

(I know I sound like a salesperson a little, but those Lunapanties are near to my favorite thing in the whole darn world. Well, after my dog. And my partner. And best friends. And world peace, and...you get it.)


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DarkChild717
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While we've managed to go to the subject of period "control", has anyone else tried the Natracare tampons? I found them at my local Freddy's, and tried em, and I found them to be more comfortable than the commercial brands. Odd, since I can't feel either one.

I would totally go for Luna products, but I really can't afford them right now.


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Deunan Knute
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Hmm... I seem to have lost a rather long post in the process of posting it. I don't really care to write it all up again, but I'll retype the jist of it.

A University of Alberta professor put that idea into my head when he came to speak to my bio class on human reproduction. By saying we were bult to be pregnant all the time, I'm merely saying we CAN be and that it's happened in the past to our grandmothers and great grandmothers. I'm definately not saying we SHOULD or that it's our only purpose.


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Heather
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Then your prof perhaps need to spend some more time studying history. Or adjusting his bias on what he personally thinks about women.

Without modern technology, our great grandmothers and before very often died in childbirth, ended up with serious bone loss, hips and joints that weren't mobile, hysterectomies (crude ones, at that) before their time and far shorter lifepsans.

So, no, actually: we really CANNOT be, by nature alone, no matter how you slice it, and multiple births always exponentially increased those risks and do still. The last 100 years alone, as I mentioned above, have radically changed the landscape in terms of maternal deaths and illness due to childbirth and pregnancies, as well as for pregnancy at both younger and earlier ages. If you're interested, just read some general women's history on reproductive life and women's health before the turn of the century or so (or for women still in third-world countries or very low income brackets without the aid of modern medicine).

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-09-2005).]


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Heather
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Actually, since others may also have interest (and all too few people are aware of a lot of women's history, especially without it coming out of the mouths of men who don't put their biases in check), here are some links you may find of interest as a very vague overview (though your library holds a lot of really excellent books which cover this subject):
http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/manitoba_womens_health/hist1.htm
http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/women/html/wh_005400_childbirth.htm
http://www.factmonster.com/spot/womenthen1.html
http://www.fwhc.org/roseweitz1.htm
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/childbirth.cfm
http://www.thehistoryof.net/history-of-childbirth.html


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KittenGoddess
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I just don't think I want my cycle "quashed," as the article says.

I mean, if I wasn't supposed to have periods, or if it was healthier for me to not have periods...I think that whavever higher power, etc. would have seen to it that I don't have periods. Or at least that's how it seems to me.

After three years of hormonal birth control, I just recently decided to stop taking the pill. I still think it's great as a method of birth control, and it's fabulous for women with certain reproductive problems. I'm certainly not against it. When I started taking the pill, it was like a miracle! Not only was I protected from pregnancy, but I put on enough weight to not be cold all the time, I finally had normals bleeds (that did not involve passing huge clots and last forever), and my moods regulated. But after the third year, things just didn't feel right anymore. So I made the decision to stop taking the pill. And it was three months before my period showed up after I stopped the pill. I was NEVER so glad to have a period as I was this month. I'd never really skipped a period before, let alone several. And it just didn't feel right.

Per not being concerned about osteoperosis...for anyone who is not concerned about this, let me encourage you to become concerned. Have you ever spent time with an older woman with significant bone loss? By the time my grandmother died, her bones were literally like crackers. Just before she died she broke her pelvic bone when they lifted her onto the bed pan (she had several other broken bones at the time as well, but the simple act of gently lifting her and placing her on the bedpan was enough to shatter her pelvis). We could not hug her or hold her, and she was in constant pain. So while those commercials may make it sound like the worst thing that will happen is getting a couple of inches shorter -- that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's nothing to screw around with.

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Karybu
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Okay, so I've been thinking about this whole continuous pill-use thing quite a bit the last couple of days, it's really piqued my interest and I have a question.

Basically I'm wondering why it's being assumed so quickly that this new pill will cause bone loss? I've been doing a little research and everything I've read indicates that oral contraceptives actually increase bone density, not decrease it. It only seems to be Depo Provera that decreases bone density. (Can anyone explain that?) Am I missing some crucial bit of evidence that points towards this new form of birth control causing bone loss?


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Heather
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From what I have seen, karybu, in YOUNGER women, whose bones have not yet completely finished growing, some studies are shoing loss in use of the pill AS-IS.

In other words, taking that pill even more regularly -- more like Depo is used, actually -- equals more of that/more risks of that.

(In older women, I think the bone loss issue is sort of a wash, averging out all I've read. However, as I'm recalling, increases which were seen in older women were primarily in sedentary, not active, women: I'd have to double-check that, though.)

And stuff like this stays a big question maker because we really have no data on adolescent/young women and the pill, period, because many of their ages make open studies of them impossible in most countries.

I bring up bone loss here because I was addressing younger women.


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NotApplicable
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I strongly disagree with you on this one, Scarlett.

I don't see how you could possibly say that this has been created solely with the benefit of the patriarchal society in mind. The overarching effects of this drug(and let's ignore side effects for a moment) do nothing but elliminate something which has obviously negative connontations. I very rarely(read:never) hear anything but complaints from girls on their periods. I have heard complaints of cramps, about the horrors of the mood swings, and terror stories of having a friend rush you a tampon while at work. I'm not saying there aren't any benefits, but there is much more inscentive here than benefiting patriarchal society.

Furthermore, even if none of the side effects of periods existed, I don't think that it's arguable that girls/women should have the right to choose whether they want to have their periods or not. The acceptance of this pill wouldn't force anyone to stop menstruating, and if the someone felt that they desired to have the bond of menstruation with other women, then they could simply not take the pill.

In regards to the pill serving to make women more like men, it does, but this isn't a bad thing. If, based on the items I previously mentioned, one can say that the period is a bad thing(in some respects, you've shown that it has benefits), and men do not have a period, then one could conclude that it would be beneficial to be like men in that respect.

Also, Women's bodies are undoubtably made for pregnancy. Are they made for other thigns? Of course! Mostly for other things(Humanity being a big one), with pregnancy being a side note, but from the perspective of a biologist, who studies the biological and anatomical nature of humans, it would be easy to notice on a detached, scientific level, that women are built in such a way as to make pregnancy more possible than men. It's entirely unfair to alude to him having sexist oppinions against women for an easily justifiable statement he made in his class.

Furthermore(and I hate to bring another thread into this, but it directly connects to your comment), if you feel uncomfortable with anyone making generalisations about your body, then you should be careful about those you make about others. Like you said, no sexism on ST, regardless of the poster's gender, and if making a generalisation about "Women" is sexist against you as a woman, then many of the comments you have made about "Men" oppressing women are equally unfair. I'm a man(boy), I've never oppressed a Woman. Sexism works both ways, and only through viewing everyone as mutually "Human" can we avoid this issue.

As for noone creating pills for men, this is entirely illogical. The majority of men don't even have wet dreams because of masturbation, and even if they do, semen(usually; I'm making a slightly unfounded generalisation here, but I'll openly admit that) doesn't stain sheets in the clearly visable way that menstrual blood would. Additionally, men don't have as clear a hormonal cycle, and never blame their actions on their hormone cycle, so creating a drug to suppress that cycle would have almost no commercial market. Honestly, if there were a way for me, as a male, to reduce the effect of my hormones on my moods, I would almost certainly try it.

Now, I'm only disagreeing with the points that I specifically outlined, since I think you're entirely correct in that this needs extensive testing, and would almost certainly not be worth the risk if it had long term negative side effects, but it IS worth testing, since women have the right to be able to choose for themselves if the riskes are worth it. I probably wouldn't, simply because I find it mildly scary, but choice is the important thing here, since many drugs could fail to be developed if they stopped whenever someone felt that their goal was unworthy.


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NotApplicable
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Eep, that got a long a lot faster than I expected. Didn't mean to go "RAWR!" on ya.


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Heather
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Oh, no trouble at all. Healthy, repsectful debate, always a Yay.

Let me touch briefly on some of what you've said as food for thought.

Erasing mesntruation doesn't make the negative connotations go away or change misogynist attitudes. Menstruation isn't the problem: those attitudes about it are. And those connotations not only aren't everywhere, in some respects, trying to erase menstruation may only compund them, especially for the women should this stuff be widespread, who cannot afford to do this, who choose not to do this.

Many women also complain about their periods because we are very strongly sent the message that we should. Or, because complaining about them is the only allowable way we can talk about them, especially in mixed company. or, because when talking with men about mesntruation, complaints about it are the only common thread/point of entry into discussing menstruation, women may have.

Know to that when looking for how something like this might benefit patriarchy, we can also open the big can of worms per how it can make women sexually available 24/7 to those with menses taboos, negativity, etc.

To boot, one has to consider perspective on the "terrors" of menstruation. Most older women, for instance, who have had real terrors in their lives, don't view it that way. Many very lower class women don't: there are far more pressing and real hardships to deal with.

I by NO MEANS am saying women shoouldn't have the right to choose to do something like this or not, should something like this actually always BE elective for all women (understand, for instance, that some welfare programs DO put nonelective controls on women's bodies, so you see where this could go for some women where it may NOT be a choice, or the choice may be between this and not feeing their family). rather, that the message that it MUST be the BEST thing for all women is a bad one. That the message that t MUST be healthier without evidence to show that at all is a bad one.

And per the idea that men have it better because they don't menstruate, eh...I don't agree, especially when you factor in this issue that in what respects in can be seen that way have a lot to do with our culture being tailored for men, rather than women, much of the time.

And yes: if he was alluding to what you were saying, rather than saying -- as the poster said he did -- that constant pregnancy is what women were built for, sure that's a fair thing to say. But that's not what she said.

When I talk about patriarchy, for the record, I'm talking about patriarchy: not about men. However, understand that in US culture and law, for instance, most of the policies made around women's bodies and around reproduction -- both in medicine and in law -- are NOT made by women, but are made mostly by a majority of men. And that very much is about patriarchy, but it is also about those men. I'm very certain I have not accused all men of oppressing women in any way here. Can you show me where I have?


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DarkChild717
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NotApplicable, I've got some fantastic research about some of your statements, if you'd like. I just wrote my senior thesis on the history of menstrual advertising--really fascinating.

To sum up my research, essentially women get their ideas about menstruation early on, in the pre-menarcheal stage. Their information comes from mothers, advertisements, and peers. The information that mothers and peers give are also highly influenced by the advertising.

A century of menstrual advertising does nothing but shame women. For instance, a 1928 Lysol Disinfectant ad, from when Lysol was a feminine douche, reads,

quote:
When they were first married, five years ago, they liked to dance together, go motoring together, play golf together. They still like to do those things together today.
She is still the girl he married.
During the years following her marriage, she has protected her zest for living, her health and youthfulness, and “stayed young with him” by the correct practice of feminine hygiene. (Lysol 1928)

The imagery with that text shows prosperity. The ad copy insinuates that a woman's hygienic practices determine her husband's success. They get really nasty in a 1948 ad, which insinuates that a woman's husband will leave her if she isn't "fresh". That attitude about women and their menses is what is being perpetuated, according to four different studies I found. You can also reference Joan Brumberg and Karen Houppert if you'd like more information. The 1976 book The Curse is also very good.

So, girls complain about their periods because they've been told by advertisers that they should be ashamed of their periods for the last century, if not more. Part of it is realizing that really, there's nothing TO be ashamed about. Really. Every woman on this planet experiences menses. I also assure you, many cultures celebrate menarche. Western society doesn't--they've demonized it, while trying to both elevate it and ignore it. Did you know that the Girl Scouts had a menstruation badge in the 1920s? They did. A girl got it for menstruating and learning proper terminology.

I think the problem that Miz S and other see with this pill is that it’s another device telling women to feel ashamed about their periods, and science has found yet another way to control it or get rid of it. That’s been the general thought of the medical community well before, but is really obvious in the 1921 book, Menstruation and Its Disorders.

Well. That’s a succinct summary of my research paper. Or, at least section one.


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NotApplicable
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One thing I'd like to point out is that, although this doesn't nullify anything that's been said, the entire direct cause of this drug is desire from women for such a drug to exist. This could reflect the patriarchal attidudes that have been described, but only insofar as they affect women.

Mis Scarlett has spoken repeatedly about fixing the problem at it's source, and if that is the advisable strategy, then attacking reflections of this attitude among women isn't helpful at all, especially since, even if mysoginist attitudes were erased, and we lived in a perfectly gender-egalitarian society(oh, that would be so nice), there would likely still be some women who would want a pill like this.

Even if this pill is a tool to make women more available sexually to men, it would be the women who would choose to take it*. Perhaps that attitude should be changed, but the pill itself shouldn't be blamed for proposed uses that MIGHT be unethical.

I find the research you mentioned very enlightening. I don't experience that attitude very much in my own life(all of my female friends are in a very open environment, even about periods), but I can see how it could exist. I would disagree with the idea that the stigma attached to periods is solely misogynist, or related to male dominance. If you get beyond the fact that periods are solely experienced by women, then the attitude about periods fits the standard for about any other sexual or "private" function. I think that most people on this forum would agree that any of the things in that category should be more open for public discussion, but that has nothing to do with the attitude of society towards women. Girls shouldn't be ashamed of their periods, but this pill wouldn't MAKE them ashamed, but instead would be an option that could be misused by those with feelings of shame. Once again, the problem should be fixed at it source, not at one of it's reflections*.

I wish you would elaborate on how you think our culture is oriented to fit men in regards to menstruation. I would think that this issue has more to do with our culture being oriented to capitalism, and BUSY BUSY BUSY lifestyles. I would picture this being used by people who's lives are so busy that they feel like they don't have time to menstruate every 28 days, or who are so stressed already that they don't want to think about it, which has very little to do with being like men, except that men are(perceived) as more able to be active because they don't have periods.

As for Accusing men of oppresing women(and once again, sorry for bringing another thread into this) "Walker wasn't being sexist in that book in any way, shape or form: she was not discrminating against men; even as a widely-read author, she's a woman of color who is an author, She doesn't have that power. She was, in that book telling stories of ways in which her male characters oppressed the women in the book, which are ways men oppress women every day. Still."

That one had a bit of a sting to it. I don't oppress women every day. That just really rubbed me the wrong way, as it judges Me, and every other male based solely on our gender.

*I feel it worth noting at both of these points that if this drug were released, it would HAVE to be with the attitude that this is NOT something for everyone, and it certainly could never be legally force on someone. Doctors, pharmicists, and generally anyone involved would have to actively resist the creation of such a view of this drug, since if women were ever EXPECTED to use this drug, that would clearly be a societal attitude detrimental to women.

Also, I've used caps to denote italics and bold faced words. I'm not sure how to post with either of those correctly, so any help would be appreciated.


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Heather
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quote:
As for Accusing men of oppresing women(and once again, sorry for bringing another thread into this) "Walker wasn't being sexist in that book in any way, shape or form: she was not discrminating against men; even as a widely-read author, she's a woman of color who is an author, She doesn't have that power. She was, in that book telling stories of ways in which her male characters oppressed the women in the book, which are ways men oppress women every day. Still."

That one had a bit of a sting to it. I don't oppress women every day. That just really rubbed me the wrong way, as it judges Me, and every other male based solely on our gender.


Try this on: Women give birth every day.

Is that true? Yep. Do ALL women give birth every day? Nope. But we can say truthfully that "women give birth every day" because we are not saying ALL women give birth every day: the grammar and use of that collective noun is such that in using it that way, all is not implied.

I did not say all men oppress women in those ways. I said men oppress women in those ways every day, which is true. In a word, you leaped, you projected.


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Heather
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I have yet to see anything that tells me that this was developed at the request of women. If you have, by all means, share it. But given that the FDA is majority male, the owners and profiteers of the pharmaceutical companies are majority male, and that women have been asking for an awful lot of things in the development of contraception that no one's bothered to even start to develop, I'd question that assumption very profoundly unless I had some pretty strong, reliable evidnce that told me so.

No one is 'blaming" the pill itself, here. What is being critiqued is a rush to tell women it's good for them, even best for them, before we have any firm study and data which proves that thesis. We have a pretty sordid history, especially in the states, of certian chemical compounds being rushed unto the shelves without enough stufy, often due to corporate contracts. Nutrasweet is an excellent example of this: a whole lot of us -- myself included -- had unexplained grand mol seizures for years that medications weren't controlling. Only some years AFTER it was okayed (in a hurry, due to a big contract with a soda company) and THEN was study done was it discovered that for many people, that compound caused nervous system disorders. Alas: the minute we stopped eating it, our seizures went away. Of course, that doesn't erase any damage that was done to our brains and nervous systems before then.

Per how culture is oriented to fit men in regard to menstruation, it's really not all that complex, and a lot like how it is geared to fit men per pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing. Per abortion. My partner often says (and lemme tell you, he's hardly what you'd call anything close to a hardcore feminist) that if men could become pregnant, we'd be able to get abortions through drive-through windows. While certainly, that's pat, and not likely to THAT degree, it's a pretty apt thing to say. If everyone in our culture could become pregnant and give birth, do you earnestly think we'd have to lobby so hard for paid leave from work? Would child care be so expensive and tough to find? Would so many limitations on abortion be present? Would calling in with a period be seen as different than calling in with a cold? Would contraception be so limited and tough to obtain? Heck: would even the way we are instructed to give birth in hospital settings be so backwards in terms of our anatomy? Would our annual GYN exams be the way they are? It's doubtful.

We can answer that to some degree, because there are microcosmic communities of women out and about in the world where all of this works a lot better. Obviously, a reduction in size of the community is also a factor. But it's not the only factor. And that isn't to say it's this or Utopia: that's dismissive and simplistic. Rather, that it's safe to say that equity in these areas would be at least substantially better than it is.

We also likely wouldn't have to even concern ourselves with IF women got to choose what mdications and contraception they use: if we aren't concerned with that now, we're foolish or uninformed, especially when it comes to global issues with women, rather than merely local ones. As I believe I already mentioned here, there exist right now scenarios in which that is NOT absolute choice for women.

It's also a tricky, sticky thing to try and separate capitalism from patriarchy, because, to our knowledge, it's only existed under patriarchy. As of this time, we really can't separate them because we've no way of knowing if the former would even exist without the latter, and if it did, if that system would be the same or not in another context.

I really think it's important to remember that cirticism of patriarchy is not criticism of men. It is not the same thing. While I absolutely think women suffer far more under patriarchy than men do, I think EVERYONE is served poorly by it; I think it is to some degree oppressive to everyone. When it comes to men, I think often we can't even know what most men are like -- as individual or collective men, exclusive of that system -- because that system and its social mores dictate so much of male behaviour.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 12-18-2005).]


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DarkChild717
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quote:
I find the research you mentioned very enlightening. I don't experience that attitude very much in my own life(all of my female friends are in a very open environment, even about periods), but I can see how it could exist. I would disagree with the idea that the stigma attached to periods is solely misogynist, or related to male dominance. If you get beyond the fact that periods are solely experienced by women, then the attitude about periods fits the standard for about any other sexual or "private" function.

In addition to the things Miz S listed, I'd also like to point out a few things. I didn't find any women addressed at all in my research until I brought in Margaret Sanger--and she was being arrested for distributing information about contraception.

The tampon applicator, a staple of many woment today? It was invented in 1936 by Dr. Edward Haas, a man.

Most, if not all of the advertisements I looked at were conceived by men. I assure you, that in 1900, there were probably no women working as advertisers, gynecologists, or any other influential profession that would have affected the early basis for socially construed menstrual ideas. I'd call that based on a patriarical society. In a time when a mother wouldn't even *tell* her daughter she was *getting* a period, this patriarical society was telling married women how to feel about their period.

The thing is, the pill (all ~40 different brands), the patch, the ring, the shot, etc are the newest things in a long line of things telling women to control their period, to hide it, to cover it up, etc. The advertising implies that women still should be ashamed, and they need to cover it up.

That said, these ideas aren't going to change overnight. So, working with what we've been given and have had for over a century, this pill will be welcomed, I'm sure, by many women. Two years ago, I would have loved it. I've been fortunate to have done my research in regards to this subject, but not all women have, nor will they all be reading my paper. Your friends are very lucky in that aspect, because they, as well as all women in Western society, have been exposed to shameful attitudes about their periods for well over a century. That's a very long history of these attitudes.

(oh, how I love a healthy debate! )


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Peaches44
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Well this topic may not have been touched in a while and I don't really want to get into the big debate going on I read the article and I have a couple comments.

I hated my period. I have currently been on Depo for 2.5 years and thankfully I JUST recently stopped bleeding altogether. When I was on the pill, it didn't stabilize. When I started Depo, it didn't stabilize. The closest thing I ever had to a "normal" cycle was when I was bleeding for two weeks and then not for 1.5 weeks (that continued for a couple of months). I had terrible debilitating cramps and I would black out and be sick to my stomache. I definitely enjoy not having my period because of Depo.

About the bone loss thing, several doctors I have seen have told me that new studies (although incomplete and therfore not allowed to be publicised as medical truths yet) are showing that as long as measures are taken to keep bone density as high as possible while actually on Depo then when you stop taking it, bone density usually returns to normal. I eat as much calcium and vitamin-d rich food as possible and sometimes take a supplement if I have neglected my diet, and I also do a lot of weight bearing activites to keep my bones strong. I'm not really worried about the bone loss factor.

Just as a final thought on the article though...I definitely think that no taxes on feminie hygeine products is a good idea. lol


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blueveggie
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I'm in a similar boat as Peaches although my periods were regular in times apart from each other I had about three weeks of misery out of every month..

I take bc, which helps.

Taking it in 3mo cycles helps more [Big Grin]

I would LOVE not to have any periods.. love love love.. however because of the lack of studies I will stick to my 3mo cycles, which is about as far as they've gotten to considering missing periods/withdrawal bleeds safe.

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