The birth control pill has us the freedom to determine our own reproductive future and that’s great, but wouldn’t it be even better if we didn’t have to have periods at all? Well, as it turns out, we’ve all been enduring those terrible cramps and mood swings for absolutely no reason. The inventors of the pill implemented the placebo week of withdrawal bleeding in order to mimic a woman’s natural cycle for the Pope. Yep.
Withdrawal bleeding isn’t even a real period. To understand why, you need to understand the science behind birth control. The pill works by preventing ovulation; if no egg is released, there’s nothing to fertilize and conception can’t occur. In women who don’t take birth control, the period week is necessary in order to shed the uterine lining created by ovulation; without ovulation, there’s no actual period. The bleeding that occurs during the placebo week of birth control is simply withdrawal from the hormones and it’s been deemed medically unnecessary.
It was all about placating the Catholic church. It’s no secret that the Catholic church doesn’t approve of using birth control in any form. It’s ridiculous but whatever. The doctors who invented the pill thought that if they advised women to take it continuously and suddenly they weren’t bleeding every month, it would freak everyone out and be deemed too unnatural. Instead, they decided to recommend a hormone-free week that would result in withdrawal bleeding and mimic a period. They did this because they hoped to gain the approval of the Pope, not because it would benefit women medically in any way.
Their plan didn’t work but it was too late. In 1968, the Pope publicly declared that all forms of birth control were still against the teachings of the Catholic church. Unfortunately, by then the placebo week had already become ingrained in the process of using birth control so it stuck. Decades later, we’re still enduring unnecessary and painful cramps, bleeding, and terrible mood swings because of the antiquated teachings of one of the oldest religions in existence.
Science is finally coming into the light. Recently, the NHS in the UK updated its guidelines for contraceptive pill use, affirming that it’s perfectly safe to skip all the placebos and take birth control pills continuously. This is wonderful news for all of us; we can choose to skip the cramps, the anxiety about bleeding through our pants at work, the mood swings and the bloating. We can skip it all!
Not only is it safe but continuous use could have other health benefits as well. The NHS also said that continuously taking the pill has been associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer including endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and colorectal cancer. It’s also been linked to symptom improvement in cases of PCOS and endometriosis.
Skipping the placebo pills may also increase your pill’s effectiveness. According to the NHS, continuous use of birth control pills can be better when it comes to preventing pregnancy as well. While a week isn’t enough time to reactivate the ovaries to the point of actually ovulating, the withdrawal from the hormones does spur some activity in the ovaries that can be prevented by continuous use.
Being unaware of an unplanned pregnancy isn’t as big a concern as you would think. Some women say they prefer to have a “period” as an assurance that they’re not pregnant. First of all, withdrawal bleeding isn’t a real period. Most importantly though, if you haven’t missed any pills or taken any of them very very late, it’s highly unlikely that you’re pregnant. If you’re not good at remembering to take it at a certain time every day, set an alarm on your phone or ask your partner or BFF to remind you; as long as you take it every day at the same time and you’re aware of any other factors in your life that could affect the hormones, you don’t need to constantly worry about it failing.
The bottom line is that we don’t need to have fake periods and we can end the suffering now! Ladies, science has set us free! Now that we know these fake periods are unnecessary, we can choose if we want to stick with the status quo or charge into the future period-free wearing white pants whenever we want. The world is ours!
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