Too Many Periods?

After receiving some good feedback after mentioning Malcolm Gladwell's article on breast cancer screening, I thought I'd briefly talk about another article I read by him, this time it is on the topic of birth control. Like the last article I talked about, this one is lengthy, but I can assure you it is an interesting read (especially for women!).

I've always thought that oral contraceptives (aka birth control or the "pill" (which basically consists of synthetic hormones being pumped into the body in order to trick the body into thinking it is pregnant)) was very unnatural to the human body. Ever since starting my naturopathic medicine studies last September, I'd become even more convinced that tricking the body with pills is a bad idea. To me it suddenly all seemed very unnatural and I was worried about the long-term consequences on anyone women's health if they took the pill for an extended period of time. I also wondered if the sudden increase in breast and ovarian cancers in women had something to do with prolonged oral contraceptive use...

However, Gladwell may have changed my view on prolonged birth control use in his article. I put the word may in italics because I haven't done much research on this topic myself, but I appreciate the work he did and his theories are really quite intriguing!

To summarize the idea presented in the article, it may actually be more natural to use birth control long-term than it is to have many regular, naturally induced, menstruation cycles. The point is that is actually not natural for the female body to experience the many, many menstruations that it does today because of societal norms (dictating that a female only gets pregnant one to three times on average). Way back when, women were pregnant fairly often, birthing lots of children. Since these women spent most of their reproductive years pregnant or nursing, they didn't experience as many periods as the women of today. Gladwell says that there is something bad about having a lots and lots of periods, like the women of today do. Yet, if the body think its pregnant more often due to the pill, it has on average fewer periods and thus is protected from the harmful effects of menstruating.

I was super surprised to think that it may be more natural to have menses regulated by the pill than to not have it regulated while living birth control pill-free. A crazy, crazy concept that I hope to research and explore further in the near future. If you want to check out this crazy idea, you can find it here.


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