Menstruation: Misunderstood or modern woman’s foe?

BRANDON, Man. (CUP) — Does eliminating menstruation show the ultimate submission to man or is it the ultimate assertion of female strength?

A heated debate along these lines has ensued since the introduction of new, continuous birth control drugs such as Anya. These pills eliminate even the ?withdrawal bleeding? of conventional birth control pills, causing complete cessation of the menstrual cycle. Some assert that this will put women on par with men physically, sexually, and emotionally. Others contend that ?menstrual suppression? is just another effort by dominant society to control women’s bodies.

The period has been given a reputation of being dirty, unpleasant, shameful, weak, and inconvenient. The truth is that the period is meticulously (and even miraculously) designed to provide natural stress relief, a release of excess iron from the blood (possibly accounting for the fewer instances of heart attack and stroke among women than men), and an affirmation of women’s ability to create life. Menstruation’s loss of value may represent a negative attitude toward women’s bodies in general.

Some have argued that ?quality of life? is not a good reason to tamper with the body’s natural cycle. The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research has stated ?… 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.? Rather, they say, it should be used only in cases of extremely heavy or uncomfortable periods.

Perhaps women are attracted to menstrual suppression because it offers management of their bodies and lives; they are free to have sex or wear a bikini anytime, avoid PMS and cramps, and cut out expensive menstrual products. The notion that modern women simply ?don’t have time? to menstruate may contribute as well. But are these women really taking charge of their lives, or are they merely making themselves more available and desirable for male use?

The consequences of continuous birth control are not yet known. As yet, no study has gone on long enough to document whether it may cause infertility or other problems. However, for young women today there is a choice. Whether they are missing out on something special is a matter of opinion.