Saturday, June 3, 2006

Only women bleed

I read that birth control is being jury rigged and refined and that the result will be that more women will not be inconvenienced by unwelcome, unwanted periods.

As a woman who has many, varied symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (water retention, breast soreness and back pain, odd bursts of energy, frequent urination, moodiness, and bouts of depression), as well as dysmenorrhea, I should be excited about this possibility. Even though I am surely close to the end of my menstruating days, I should be happy that young women today, and of the future, women like my nieces, will not have to endure 420+ periods, including the discomfort and mood swings of PMS and the cramps of menstruation, if they choose not to.

To physically active women, or those who travel, not having periods with which to contend must sound like a marvelous thing, one of those wonders that seem to make life simpler and easier, something that women have been hoping and waiting for. Indeed, the women quoted in the article thought that preventing periods is highly desirable and that life is better without them.

But I'm not one of those women.

I am a female animal, a human female. I menstruate. It is as normal for me to have periods as it is for me to require air and water. Take away my period, and all that goes with it, and am no longer myself; I am not even sure I am still woman. I am a human female with a dysfunctional reproductive system; whether I use it or not as intended is not the question. I cannot imagine dismissing something that defines me—and my gender—so easily, without a sound medical reason, such as severe or extraordinary pain or bleeding. For me to feel like woman, to be a woman, my body must be allowed to behave as it was designed to do.

A gynecologist who prevents her own periods is quoted as saying, "There's no reason you need a period." That's an arrogant and presumptuous blanket statement. There are known health benefits of having regular periods, and artificially manipulating the menstrual cycle and hormones has known health risks. Even for women who are not trying to have babies, there could be and undoubtedly are reasons to have periods, inconvenient as they can be.

At a time when there is a growing interest in traditional medicine and its focus on whole-person wellness, we are trying to disconnect our reproductive system from the rest of our body. I suspect it's not that simple.

Perhaps the reason to have periods is because it's natural for us to do so.

In The Mists of Avalon and The Forest House, Marion Zimmer Bradley's pagan priestesses revere the goddess and their connection to her, to nature, and to another through their "moon cycles"; a woman's period is a sacred time that is part of her link to creation. It is, literally and figuratively, her creative force.

Or it's a mere inconvenience, to be suppressed artificially.

Do we really need this level of control over our bodies and our lives? Can we consider the wisdom of "correcting" Nature only when she truly proves flawed, for example, in the case of disease or impairment?

Only women bleed.

And sometimes not even them.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. I'm with you on this. Well put. I am also an INFP, and just started blogging recently. I put in a search for "INFP" and found your blog. Thanks for sharing! I love your thought processes!