Why I am opposed to menstrual suppression

Why I am opposed to menstrual suppression: a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

which published "Foes raise red flag against suppression of menstruation," (read it) by Karen Hoffmann, Post-Gazette Staff Writer, on Tuesday, June 24, 2003

To the Health Editor, Post-Gazette

Cc: Karen Hoffmann

Ms. Hoffmann's article dated 6/24/03, "Foes raise red flag against suppression of menstruation," raises grave concern amongst the growing number of women and men who have come to realize that the natural gift of menstruation is the foundation of women's being and that to deny, denigrate and suppress that process is yet another act of violence against women.

To condone menstrual suppression is to condone yet another generation of women to mental/emotional/physical suppression.

I could see one this coming down the pike, with women my age waking up to the fact that the side effects of menstrual suppression in the form of HRT actually outweigh the benefits of this misaligned therapy (New York Times, Health, 10/17/02, Risks of Hormone Therapy Exceed Benefits, Panel Says). So the next step? Target an innocent market of women not unlike how the tobacco companies target teenagers. Duping these young women into thinking that one pill will reduce their periods to four a year is nothing less than another crime against women and another form of control.

To quote a male doctor who believes that "what is natural is for women is to have one to two periods a year and to either be breast-feeding or pregnant the rest of the time" is unconscionable. My God, women have struggled for the hundreds of years for the right to own property, to vote, to be equal with men in terms of pay, promotions, to engage in warfare side by side with men, for the right to independence and success, for the right not to be abused, be considered property, or to be chatteled; to the right to control when to have children not because of taking a pill, but because of partnership in a relationship. Yet, in one ill-informed article, Ms. Hoffmann's using this doctor as a credible reference has sent women back to the Dark Ages. The reality is that the male powers that cannot control women any other way since our mothers and foremothers have been so diligent and unrelenting in their pursuit of our equal rights have now deemed yet another form of control over our bodies. And women are buying it. And unfortunately, innocent women like Ms. Hoffmann are selling it.

Wake up women! We are guinea pigs to a medical and pharmaceutical industry that is making big buck off our bodies! And do they care about our health and well being? I think not. The studies have not been done. Are you willing to risk the quality of your life for a pill for preventing pregnancy? Don't have sex! No, I am not a Christian right-winger but sometimes the line is thin that divides the left and right. To have sex is to give your power away. That is the message we should be telling our teenage daughters.

Not to mention that 8000 teens a day are contracting STD's. Will this miracle pill prevent that? Oh, no! Oh, no! How many young innocent women will take this pill thinking they are "safe," but will contract any number of STD's - that will affect their health care and their ability to have children in the future.

Sherill Sellman has stated that "tampering with a woman's hormones is tampering with her power." [Hormone Heresy, Oestrogen's Deadly Truth, Part 2 Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Vol. 3, #5 (Aug. - Sep. 1996)]. I also believe that women's menstrual cycles are the foundation of our beings. This beautiful body function - and yes, it is beautiful when we understand the changes our bodies are going through - is what gave women power, respect, and sacredness in societies past.

Because our fundamental right to accurate, positive education about how our body's function, and how the flow of estrogen and progestin affect our behavior has been denied, women have been suppressed into thinking that this monthly flow is a "curse," a "pain," debilitating - and they have bought into the myth of "PMS" and now "PMDD"; which to my knowledge has been defined as a mental illness. STOP~!

Ovulation - harmful? This is the process that creates life. This is our power. Women create and nurture life. Is ovulation harmful to any other creature in life? How can we deny this exquisite process of creation? And withdrawal bleeding is a release, a part of a beautiful process of becoming and letting go; it is the rhythm of life - and all life forms go through this process. To deny this is to deny our part in the cycle of creation.

I agree with the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research in their statement concurring that "menstrual suppression may be useful for women with severe menstrual cycle problems, but we do not believe that continuous oral contraceptive use should be prescribed to all menstruating women out of a rejection of a normal, healthy menstrual cycle." But for the rest of women, I implore you to listen to your instincts. The choice is yours; be a guinea pig, allow yourself to be controlled, or find the resources that will assist you in exploring this beautiful menstrual flow in your bodies that is aligned with every other life form on this planet.

Ms. Hoffmann's article ended with: "Said one respondent: "Periods -- normal? I don't think so. Period." [The statement came from an e-mail to this site in the Would you stop menstruating if you could? page.] That statement is a death sentence.

Menstrual cycles honoring women's power and glory are normal. Own it. Honor yourself.

Leslie Botha-Williams

Women's Health Educator


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