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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Lifting "the curse"

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Author Topic: Lifting "the curse"
kitka
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http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/05/22/no.more.periods.ap/index.html

Here we go again. The Wyeth pharmaceutical company is trying to get approval for Lybrel, its continuous birth control pill. I wonder what will happen to young women who, in 25 or 30 years, will have been suppressing their periods for decades.

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Ikeren
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If it is medically safe, I still approve of free will, as long as it is not blatently psychologically dangerous. But if you are likely to become upset because of this, than I'd advise against taking it.

Although, I would think that referring to periods as "The Curse" may be a bit of a negative connotation...

[ 05-27-2006, 04:45 PM: Message edited by: Ikeren ]

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Beppie
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quote:
Originally posted by Ikeren:

Although, I would think that referring to periods as "The Curse" may be a bit of a negative connotation...

Definitely-- this actually refers back to Genesis, in which god basically says to Eve "I'm going to make everything to do with reproduction painful for you and every woman after you because you dared to eat a bit of fruit."

Insofar as this continuous pill is concerned, I think whether or not a woman takes it is a personal choice, though of course I also think it needs to be made explicitly clear that there are no long term studies as yet, and there are risks associated with that. Personally, I would not be comfortable without having a withdrawal bleed (I have been on the pill nearly five years, and haven't skipped a single bleed), and I am uncomfortable with the fact that some women may simply choose this because they have been taught that menstruation/withdrawal bleeds are unclean in some way, but at the same time people with conditions like endomytriosis suffer pretty serious pain from their periods, even on the pill, and I can certainly understand wanting to avoid that. When it comes down to it, I would personally not recommend that other women do this if they asked me for my personal advice, but at the same time, I don't think it's my place to make broad, sweeping statments of "shoulds" and "should nots." I respect that a lot of women will choose to take this pill for their own reasons, and that is perfectly valid, and I hope that any woman making this choice is aware of all factors.

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origami_jane
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Do you guys ever think that maybe parts of "the curse" --cramps, etc--have been aggravated in recent years because of environmental and cultural factors? Pumping all those chemicals into our bodies daily, plus all the nasty hormones in meat and dairy...... it's gotta do something detrimental.

But Beppie, I totally agree with you when you say that women have been taught that menstruation is unclean (or, in my case, a cause for shame). My brothers (12 + 14) and my sister and I all share a bathroom, and my mother gets so paranoid if she sees my sister's tampon wrappers or anything. She treats it like we have to hide that our bodies are healthy and normal, just because it might offend the delicate male psyches of my brothers.

On the other hand, I understand the endomytriosis situation. I wish that there was more money going into researching women's health so we could find a treatment for that condition that doesn't involve pumping yourself full of sythetic hormones all the time. They put me on the pill for PCOS, but I stopped taking it just because I hated having my body controlled by some faraway pharmecutical company and its male executives, none of whom could understand my position. I feel like if I started eating organic and healthy foods, tracked my cycle and figured out what extra nutrients I'd need when... things would go a lot better.


Wow, I derailed this with a personal anecdote. Oops.

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Heather
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Well, there is plenty of evidence to show that lifestyle and diet has a LOT to do with menstrual maladies, and environmental issues are certainly a big part of many people's diets.

And of course, a continuous pill is going to get passed way faster than EC ever was. And this statement?

quote:
She says it has been great for her marriage, preventing monthly crankiness
Ugh. To this I got nada to say but a great, big ugh. Because, you know, I'm sure her HUSBAND never gets cranky with HIS hormonal fluctuations or anything. Shades of Stepford.

Trouble is, per usual, we still don't have study on women continuously taking the pill for 20 years. From all I can find, having looked and kept an eye out for years and years, we still don't even have any study on the pill, taken WITH a plecbo period, in teen women, even.

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Aela 57
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"Do you guys ever think that maybe parts of "the curse" --cramps, etc--have been aggravated in recent years because of environmental and cultural factors? Pumping all those chemicals into our bodies daily, plus all the nasty hormones in meat and dairy...... it's gotta do something detrimental."

I agree that most of that is a possibility, but unless you mean hormones as a result of poor feed animals are given I disagree about 'nasty hormones' in meat and dairy. Humans have eaten meat and some dairy products and eggs for centuries.

As for the pill, the fact there are no long term studies is certainly a risk to weigh up. But is it just me, or is the fact that it has been shown that taking it decreases blood flow to the vagina and vulva and lowers sex drive in many women a very serious side effect enough? Maybe doctors wouldn't consider it a health risk, but surely taking a drug which actively lowers and can even take away a sex drive is pretty bad on a personal level. Besides sex being natural and obviously enjoyable in any form, many studies have shown the benefits of regular sex on an individual.

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Aela. 19, 5'9. Often confused.

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Heather
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quote:
Humans have eaten meat and some dairy products and eggs for centuries.
Yes, but things like antibiotics and bovine growth hormone were not, until quite recently, in those products. That would be what origami_jane was referring to.

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origami_jane
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By "nasty hormones," I meant the actual hormones that companies inject into their animals. It might be different in the UK, but I'm pretty sure that's how it's done in the States. (If I'm wrong, though, somebody correct me.)

And the meat and dairy products we've been eating for centuries used to be raised humanely. Now they're in little stalls and it's just gross. Read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser if you don't believe me.


Anyway, what Miz S said about there not being any studies done on long-term pill usage is another one of the reasons why I did not want to be on the pill for the rest of my life.

We let so many things into our lives without knowing the long-term effects. (Asbestos? Teflon?) And that's how we get screwed.

And I don't think that 'decrased sex drive' is going to stop anything from getting passed by the FDA or the UK equivalent. Especially if it's only the women who aren't feeling up to it.

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Aela 57
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Ah I see about hormone injections. I don't know much about it but I assume they're put into animals here in the UK too.

By the way, I didn't mean to offend you origami_jane, I just didn't know how meat/dairy could contain anything bad, hence my comment.

And no, I don't think any health authority would say a loss of sex drive was a bad side effect.

I do however think it's important for the people considering going on the pill. Whilst you may overlook it and think me exagerating, it's not about just not 'feeling up to it'. Both myself and a close friend have completely lost interest in sex from going on the pill. My friend tried the injection form of the pill in order to try to counter the effect on her sex life as recommended by her doctor, but this gave her a period for 7 months which her doctor did not know how to deal with. It was very depressing for her, and the whole experience was really bad for her health generally.

It's not just about a complaint of a decreased sex drive, it does actually affect people's lives, socially, and for personal happiness and health like I said earlier.

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Aela. 19, 5'9. Often confused.

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Heather
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Any area that does factory farming generally participates in hormone and antibiotic injections, uses poor feed, etc. And yes, this is also an issue in the UK -- heck, farmers in the UK were feeding their cows COW, hence, the origination of mad cow disease.

I think origami_jane did hear what you said about sex drive, Silken, and I agree, it's a valid point and not a side effect you'll find anyone diminishing here, or thinks someone complaining about is whinging or minor. But I think what she was trying to point out is that women enjoying their sexuality is nothing close to something which the FDA and other large health orgs and companies care about, nor which our culture as a whole cares about. MEN enjoying sex, absolutely: but not women. The FDA in particular under the current administration has made it patently clear (with accepting Mentor silicone implants hastily, even though the data shows they still carry health risks, with the continued refusal to put EC over the counter, even though ther MEDICAL data shows there to be no reason not to, etc.) that the concerns of women, per their helth, per their well-being, are of little to no concern of theirs.

(And your friend's doc advised her poorly: I have never seen any data which suggested that Depo created those effects less: in fact, the side effects of Depo tend to be greater/more profound in most women than those of the pill.)

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Ikeren
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(Read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser)

What a great book. Did you know they are doing a movie?

(I don't think I would advise anybody to take a pill like that either. I want to see a test or two...)

Note from Miz S.: Didn't want to derail the topic by adding one more post about this book, but DID want to note that you can read a substanial excerpt here: http://www.mcspotlight.org/media/press/mcds/theguardian0704011.html

Like Supersize Me this was a piece of media that made me exceptionally glad I've never eaten this stuff, even though I already knew most of the info included.


[ 05-28-2006, 04:14 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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kitka
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http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/05/25/pill.seasonique.ap/index.html

An update - Seasonique just got FDA approval.

What unnerves me is not so much the situation in itself... Beppie's absolutely right that everyone's got to make their own (informed) choices.

Ikeren, good point per the "curse." The negative connotations of women's bodies are entrenched in our language. Odd that men don't have a similar curse (other than maybe ED, but that isn't universal among men).

The optimistic tone of these articles is what gets me - especially the women who are so happy to Stepfordize their body's mechanisms.

Having my period while living outdoors for 2 weeks, the only woman in a large group of men, was not fun. But for me there's a certain pride in being able to deal with that, and I'm sure a lot of you gals feel the same way. That 17 year old's enthusiasm for escaping menstruation smacks of her unwillingness to accept her own body the way it was made.

And I think it's symptomatic of the quick fixes that so many people are looking for, particularly in terms of weight control, appearance, and daily convenience.

The focus on controlling women, per political decisions made in the last few years, is bizarre. Is it a backlash to the advances women (and men) made in the 70s and early 80s? Is it a response to the attention on men's sexual satisfaction via drugs - a response that reinforces patriarchy? How did we get to this point?

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Beppie
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quote:
Originally posted by kitka:
Odd that men don't have a similar curse (other than maybe ED, but that isn't universal among men).

That's not really comparable at all, regardless of universality. Erectile disfunciton is often just a term that means "men's bodies aren't machines, they can't get an erection on command all the time"-- ie, it's often not a disfunction at all, just the body naturally not responding to certain stimuli for completely normal reasons. Of course, there are some men who actually have a physiological problem that prevents them from getting an erection, but it seems like every time a man doesn't have an erection when they think they want one it's labeled as "ED." Women also experience not becoming physically aroused at times when we might want to be, but for some reason this is not defined as a disfunction.

Furthermore, it's not a great comparison simply because periods are very much NOT a disfunction. They are a necessary part of a healthy menstrual cycle. I think this was your point, in terms of the reference to "the curse" being inappropriate, but still, comparing it to ED just doesn't work.

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-Lauren-
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Let me start by saying that I view menstruation in a very positive light. I see it as a sign that my body is fertile and healthy, and feel very strange if I go a month without bleeding.

That said, however, it's very hard to believe it's a blessing today. I'm only up and typing because I took a megadose of ibuprofen. I had to cut my visit short with my partner because I felt too nauseous and crippled to move. I've visited doctors, but since I don't have a heavy flow occompanying my pain, they say it's just normal.

I'm not sure whether or not I'd consider going without periods. On one hand, I'd miss the "confirmation bleed" at the end of my pill pack that remind me I'm not pregnant and that everything's honky-dory. On the other, I'd be able to function and not shove pain pills and anti-emetics down my throat just to move.

If I did choose to suppress my periods, I definately wouldn't let it go for more than three months.

But this brings me to a question: Women who get pregnant don't have a period for about 1 year, considering they breastfeed.. right? If so, wouldn't mocking that state by taking continous hormonal contraceptives for that amount of time bring more harm than that which is naturally experienced?

[ 05-29-2006, 01:21 AM: Message edited by: Miss Lauren ]

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Heather
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Ha!

Well, women who get pregnant don't get a PERIOD often for that time. But lochia, the bleed that happens after delivery, often lasts for about six weeks:solid. So, a lot of women feel like they get to have all the periods they missed, all at once.

But yeah: you can't compare what synthetic hormones do to what happens with pregnancy, for a whole lot of reasons.

FYI, Lauren, massive pain with menstruation is NOT normal. If your docs are saying it is, especially if they have not done things like an ultrasound to really check everything out, you need better docs, or perhaps to have a visit with an alternative medicine practitioner or nutritionist.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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-Lauren-
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Thank you for shedding light on that, Miz Scarlet. Lochia sure sounds like a pain in the rear!

I'll look into alternative medicine/nutrition; I've heard of several women who have found relief from herbal remedies and acupuncture. I know insurance would cover a medical nutritionist, but I'll have to call and ask about alternative medicine. Thanks again!

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Heather
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For you, Miss Lauren.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Aela 57
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"The focus on controlling women, per political decisions made in the last few years, is bizarre. Is it a backlash to the advances women (and men) made in the 70s and early 80s? Is it a response to the attention on men's sexual satisfaction via drugs - a response that reinforces patriarchy? How did we get to this point?"

I don't know, but I know a *lot* of media here in the UK describes the modern british woman as a feminist. The media's view of what this means is quite a bit off the mark for me. They seem to represent feminism as feeling you can be as sexual as you want and do whatever you want, which is true. But, they suggest plastic surgery is female empowerment and doing what women want and that all 'self-respecting feminists' (according to one article) should make sure they go out and get their bikini waxes right about now. Also, the most pro-'feminist' magazines review things like pole-dancing, lap-dancing and blow job lessons and say these are things every woman should at least try.

Is it just me or is this quite contradictory of what feminism is? Sure, women can do all this stuff but I think the whole representation that sexual empowerment = female empowerment is wrong, because although it does make women aware of their sexual side and pleasure and what women want as much as men, it also makes women very overtly sex objects in men's eyes, I think. As for whether women really want breast implants, or do it because the sexual attention they'll get as a result will get them what they 'want' - the increased male attention, that seems lost on the British media.

My point in this ramble is that, if this is the case internationally, maybe marketing companies and products are trying to match this image of women as very sexual, who WILL go out and get boob jobs, liposuction or go on the pill as a fast, fun fix to the things they are less satisfied about and to increase their apparent sexual appeal. The whole image to me direspects women as they are naturally and seems to support the idea of a woman being modified and needing to be modified to get maximum sexual desirability and femininity, and this apparently should be the goal now for all strong feminist women. Not!

End of ramble!

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Aela. 19, 5'9. Often confused.

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Heather
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I don't se how blow job lessons even ARE sexual empowerment.

(And lordisa, it's not like it's rocket science, anyway. Cripes, putting together an IKEA bookshelf is often more complex than fellatio could dream of being.)

...or cosmetic surgery (always in line with the hegemonic ideal, of course: they're likely not suggesting say, thigh or tummy implants, adding on a tail or getting rid of one's breasts), or bikini waxes or lap-dancing, etc.

I don't really keep up with a lot of popular media period, let alone in the UK -- usually what I see is US-based, only because I live here and can only avoid mass media so much since I, like, leave my home.

But no: the things you're listing aren't generally considered to be contributors to women's equality and empowerment from nearly all feminist perspectives. There's never really been a shortage, even before women could vote, in women's access to cosmetic procedures or to things which provided women the means to sexually service men. Today's breast implants were yesteryear's corsets and foot-binding. Same dog, new tricks.

(You might like reading Ariel Levy, SilkenDoll.)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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