If You’re on the Pill, Feel Free to Skip Your Period

You probably already know about the row of sugar (or placebo) tablets that are available to take during the week before your period if you use a traditional hormonal birth control pill. Or perhaps we could say “false period”?

That’s correct; according to an interview with ob-gyn Elizabeth Ann Micks, M.D., who directs a clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, the period you experience while taking birth control pills is not a true period from a physiological standpoint. The interview aired on NPR this morning. It’s only a front; an artificial flow that one of the Catholic physicians who worked on the Pill’s development believed was required in order for the pope to endorse its usage.

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In the interview, Micks asserts that having a period while using contraception is not necessary medically. Many of the female listeners were left perplexed by her statement, asking, “Um, so you mean the blood, cramps, bloating, and weariness are all for nothing?!

Yes, says Lauren Streicher, MD, author of SexRx and associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

According to Streicher, when you take a birth control pill, the pill speaks on your behalf rather than your ovaries. So, during the week that you take the sugar tablets, you suffer hormonal withdrawal: When you stop taking the pill, your levels of estrogen and progesterone fall, which triggers the uterine lining to shed. Although we call it a period, it is not one. A withdrawal bleed, which is very different, is what it is.

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Does this imply that you can skip the sugar tablets and go right to the new pill pack? Yes, Streicher answers. “I advise every single patient to miss the week of sugar pills; not only will it not assist you, but skipping that week of hormones has advantages as well. Women who experience symptoms like menstrual migraines, endometriosis, or cramps, for instance, are much better off taking their entire pill pack to avoid having to cope with those symptoms.

In fact, Striecher claims she is unable to imagine a circumstance in which she would not advise forgoing the period week. “I believe that in the future, people will reflect and ask, ‘Really? What caused that?”

Because, um, the typical lady is just now learning about this?

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