For more than a decade, gynecologists have known that women can suppress, or “skip,” their period without any adverse effects. Given the pain, bloating, cramping, and other adverse effects that come along with going through a period, many, if not most women, would happily choose to skip their periods if given the option. So why aren’t more women doing it? Mainly, it would appear, it’s because most women don’t even know that they have the choice, Broadly reports, a phenomenon that may date back to the pill’s very creation.
John Rock, one of the creators of the first birth control pill, found that if women took the pill consistently, they could go months without any menstrual bleeding. But Rock was a devout Catholic and, in a bid to win Papal approval for his pill, he decided to recommend that women take the pill for three weeks and then take the fourth week off to allow for menstrual bleeding. As Malcolm Gladwell noted in a 2000 piece for The New Yorker, “There was and is no medical reason for this.”
It wasn’t until 2003 that the first extended cycle pills came to market, giving women the option to experience withdrawal bleeding just four times a year. Women who use extended cycle pills, according to a 2013 study from the Cochrane Organization, “[fare] better in terms of headaches, genital irritation, tiredness, bloating, and menstrual pain” than women on pills that don’t suppress their period. But, as Broadly points out, most insurance companies still do not cover extended cycle birth control, and many women remain almost entirely unaware of the fact that they don’t need to suffer through a period every month. As to why so many women remain ignorant, religion may, in this instance, hold some answers.
Read the full story at Broadly.