For many women, a menstrual cycle is an inextricable part of being a woman. From the onset of menarche, through childbirth, and into menopause, a woman's feminine nature is defined by menstruation, a uniquely female experience. In the twenty-first century, women are becoming aware of the option to dismiss their monthly periods for reasons ranging from health concerns to simple convenience. These new opportunities parallel and sometimes overlap decisions women make about birth control and raise issues about agency, health risks, and the further medicalization of women's bodies in a medical system historically managed and operated by men. Whether it is through menstruation suppression or by using birth control, women now have decisions to make about their bodies, forcing a range of questions from everyday women to scholars to physicians.
[...] So, despite a contentious topic and different points of view, both physicians seem to believe that menstruation suppression, while not always appropriate, may be an effective treatment in specific cases. Menstruation Suppression and Birth Control: A Linked History The birth control pill was introduced to 1960s America without as much clamor as one might anticipate. Immediately accepted, moral controversy about the pill was expected but never materialized, perhaps due to effective marketing and a genuine desire for such a product. [...]
[...] Not having a conventional period may seem incomprehensible for some, but in other circumstances, it is the best choice for other women and that exercise of power, knowledge, and control should be valued and accepted instead of criticized and judged. Conclusions Menstruation suppression is not designed for all women. Coutinho immediately frightened many with his controversial book title, Is Menstruation Obsolete? Coutinho never wanted to argue for the abolishment of menstrual periods from society; he only wanted to pose the idea that suppressing menstruation can help women with iron deficiencies, fibroids, or endometriosis. [...]
[...] As we have seen in examining Seasonal and the debate over menstruation suppression, women vehemently opposed to this practice come forward to assert what they believe are correct facts and ideas about menstruation suppression. Medical experts have mostly found that while not universally helpful, menstruation suppression, like many other medical alternatives, can be a healthy practice in specific cases for specific problems. Feminist critics, on the other hand, argue whether or not women are being given the proper facts and whether or not this is a ploy by Big Pharma companies to exploit women's bodies to make money. [...]
[...] Seasonal Changes the Debate In 2003, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the birth control pill Seasonal, an oral contraceptive that would make it easier for women to only have four periods a year instead of the typical thirteen by offering only four rows of sugar pills each year (Cox). From the beginning, Seasonal was advertised as an alternative to monthly periods instead of a cure for menstrual ailments. According to Barr Pharmaceuticals, menstrual periods were a nuisance to avoid. [...]
[...] CNN covered the FDA's approval of Seasonal a bit more in depth and interviewed women from the trial tests who responded favorably about the drug. Trial participant Kelley Barclay touted Seasonal's helpful effects by saying, "My mood swings were not at all like they had been before, not at all severe, and my pain was not at the level that it had been before I started Seasonal.” Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a practicing physician based in New York, unassociated with the clinical trials for Seasonal, was quoted saying that not only would she prescribe Seasonal for patients; she has been skipping her own periods for nearly a decade by taking regular birth control pills back to back. [...]
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