The front page of the New York Times on Friday had an article about a new birth control pill that would cause a woman to have no period while she is taking it. The article iss about how many women (as consumers) see the period as a sign of reproductive health and many people (as experts in various fields) are troubled by the idea of eliminating it.
Birth control is a hard thing for me to even write about, because of my negative personal experiences with it. However, easy access to birth control is something I feel very strongly about – as a political issue and an issue of empowerment for women. While I personally will not take it again, I totally support women who do.
What I wonder is how we as women can take control of how we see and use birth control in our current environment. It’s hard for me to even question birth control, because it sends pangs of dread that I will somehow lend support to people who are trying to make it less accessible.
But I do question it – should it be prescribed for reasons other than controlling birth? To balance your hormones, to clear your skin, to have your period less often, and now to not have it at all? [Another issue for another day is whether it can even do these things.]
Politically, the most important thing to me is that every woman should be able to make her own choice about what is best for her own health and her own life. But how can any of us do this independently of societal pressure to perform better? What if having better skin and more balanced hormones caused a certain woman to be more confident and contributed to a promotion at work? Not losing blood might give women more energy for other things – including working more hours with less fatigue. It is impossible to me to separate societal expectation and health.
I think the problem is beyond whether we think our period is necessary for our health. It is that even if we do want to embrace our period, there isn’t enough room for it in our modern lives. And if our period is problematic, as it is for so many women, there is not good access to support to figure out why and what our options are.