Some people appreciate the experience of menstruating, saying that it connects them with their bodies. Others, like yours truly — a happily period-free Mirena owner — could do without that time of the month altogether. Thanks to hormonal birth control, you can now choose whether or not to get your period, and what’s more, medical experts say that there is no reason to believe that skipping it harms your health or fertility. In the second episode of their Guardian video series Vagina Dispatches, Mona Chalabi and Mae Ryan explore the decision to go period-free. Both Chalabi and Ryan have stopped their periods with a hormonal IUD, and they set out to speak with other people who have also tried to stop menstruating, from an Olympic swimmer to a transgender man (because it’s not only women who get periods).
Inspired by the video, here are just a few reasons someone might decide to stop bleeding out of their vagina.
1. You’re an Olympic athlete...or any kind of athlete. In the video, Chalabi and Ryan speak with retired Danish Olympic swimmer Greta Andersen, who fainted during her 400-meter freestyle race at the 1947 London Olympics due to the shot she had been given to suppress her period. "The calendar showed I was going to have my period right at [the Olympics], so somebody gave me some kind of injection to delay my period," she recalls. "I think I swam maybe 20 strokes and that’s it, I don’t remember anything. I fainted. I still didn’t know injection they were giving me, but, well, it made me fail."
Seems reasonable that, if you are physically active, you might want to focus on your activity first, menstruation second. Luckily, hormonal birth control has come a long way since 1947. It’s still not perfect by any means, but at least people who are on it aren’t going around fainting on the reg.
2. You were assigned female at birth, but that’s not your gender identity — and menstruation doesn’t fit in with it. "There’s nothing more unjust than getting your period, to me," spoken word performer and trans man Harvey Katz says in the video. "I stopped menstruating three months into testosterone therapy over 10 years ago. It’s awesome. I couldn’t go back." For trans men or non-binary trans people, menstruation can lead to intense dysphoria, or the feeling that your body doesn’t reflect your gender identity.
3. You have a really heavy flow. When I had the copper IUD Paragard, I used both a tampon and an overnight pad at all times during my period and still managed to stain clothes, chairs, and bedding, not to mention lose disastrous amounts of iron. When I decided that five days a month of creating my own personal horror movie set was five days too many, I switched to Mirena, the bloodbath ceased, and I can now use the absurd amount of time I used to spend scrubbing bloodstains out of fabric to watch YouTube videos of cute cats. Win.
4. You have endometriosis. If you have endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue that usually lines your uterus grows outside of it, then your periods can be excruciatingly painful. This is because endometriosis growths bleed when you menstruate just as your uterine lining does, which can cause pain and swelling when the growths have nowhere to go. No thank you.
- You don’t have to buy sanitary products — or you at least have to buy a lot less. It’s B.S., but in Australia, menstrual hygiene products such as tampons and pads aren’t exempt from GST (while condoms, sunscreen, and nicotine patches are, because they are somehow designated as 'essential' while menstrual products often aren’t). Even in countries that have done away with the tampon tax, shelling out for enough products to deal with the blood coming out of you for two to seven days a month is financially annoying — and for low-income women, even impossible.
6. PMS sucks. Oh hiii headaches, nausea, cramps, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, and acne, it’s you again. Premenstrual syndrome symptoms include all these and more, and opting out of this litany of annoyances makes all the sense. You’ve got better ways to use your physical and emotional energy.
7. You just don’t want to get a period. That’s it. That’s all. You may have one reason you want to stop menstruating or many, but you should never have to justify your choice — so if you’re so over your natural cycle, talk to a doctor about how to tell that blood ~bye~.
Words by: Hayley MacMillen
Via Cosmo US