This article was intended to be published over at The Glow. They recently featured an story; ‘What REALLY happens when you skip your period,’ and in fury I posted it on my Facebook page (see my reply here) because I was simply appalled. The information in the article was written by a “real” fertility expert but sadly had more holes than a pasta strainer. The Glow contacted me and gave me the right of reply – and so I sat down on my holiday (mind you) and put pen to paper – because I felt strongly and it’s no secret, I’m oh so passionate about women being able to access truthful information. In light of that, my reply was deemed “inappropriate,” and so, I’m posting it here for your eyes because you my lady deserve the truth. Sadly, it seems my writing isn’t mainstream enough, perhaps too far out of the mould. I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Here goes.
The second I read the article ‘What really happens to your body when you skip your period,’ I actually wanted to scream until my body shook – I felt like the roadrunner cartoon character with my bloodshot eyeballs diving out of their sockets in frustration. Really? I sat here shaking my head and of course shared the post on my public Facebook page and then the flood gates (best pun ever) opened. And here I am. I’m a Dr of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a natural hormone expert, an author and a speaker. I tour the country helping women understand their hormones better, to fill in the gaps and seek truthful solutions. If you only absorb one point from this story, hear this. I’m not here to push people into corners, to judge or to make you feel crappy about your choices. I am here to shine the spotlight on women’s health, to provide truthful information so that we can make informed decisions about our precious bodies. If you are on the pill and love it – great. If you understand all the risks and side effects and if your Doctor was thorough enough to explain the 100 page leaflet that comes with it in more than 3.5 minutes when you first started on the pill – even better. You’re a lucky woman. If you were told it may fail, that thousands of women continue to fall pregnant whilst taking it, that it may lead to mood swings, low libido, migraines, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, skin conditions, increased risk of cancer and blood clots and hormone imbalance – great! You had yourself a keeper of a Doctor. I can vouch for all the women I know taking it – they were never told. What’s more, I’m not actually blaming your Doctor, because too often they too aren’t revealed the issues that arise. They too continue to be told it’s perfectly safe. Sadly, we’re not getting fed the real truth.
The pill is the most prescribed drug in the world. Thing is, it’s used to treat everything from amenorrhea to acne. It’s used for so much more than contraception but sadly it isn’t actually providing a solution to these problems. The pill severely robs the gut flora, it affects how we absorb nutrients from our food (if you can’t assimilate your food well, you can’t have a well balanced working body), it upsets our hormones and has been linked to cancer. Many women are prescribed the pill because they have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)or Endometriosis – granted very serious and debilitating conditions. That said, whilst the pill may offer some short term relief, it can never and will not ever fix your hormone imbalance, your PCOS or your Endometriosis. It can’t give you a period, because whilst on the pill you don’t ovulate (or at least you shouldn’t and so if you are, the pill isn’t actually doing its job). The pill isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, yet so many women happily take it, not really aware of the actual effect it is having on their body. It isn’t until they come off it, they discover the impact it was having on them.
It’s torture for me to sit and listen to experts (who are no doubt very intelligent people with amazing qualifications) suggest we can remain healthy and skip periods. In theory, I get their point. In reality, it’s a different occurrence. If I have to listen to another person tell me we have more periods (over a lifespan) now than our foremothers I’m going to need to slap them just to pull them back to reality. Whilst this might sound like we’ve morphed into some kind of hormone monster by evolution, it’s important we look at this logically. We are a product of our environment no doubt, influenced by seasons, by growth and at the same time by disaster. We are cyclic beings and typically work on a 28 day menstrual cycle as does the moon. Our bodies like to be in synch with our surroundings – this, a perfect example. When we are thriving, when we are nourished and well fed, our bodies will happily cruise along following this general rhythm. But through disaster, famine, stress and so on, our bodies as a means of survival, take our sex hormones offline, because cortisol – that bossy hormone that is unleashed under stress will control everything in its power, meaning you no longer (at least in the short while) ovulate because your body has gone into famine mode. It’s called survival. Aren’t you glad to hear you aren’t actually a morphed hormone monster? Bet you’re glad to learn why our foremothers may have had less periods – oh not to mention they were possibly pregnant and breastfeeding (as the article mentioned) for a good chunk of their glory days too. It wasn’t because we’ve become something completely different – genetically we are 99% the same as our first relatives.
So will skipping a period stuff up your cycles? This is the real question. I can, and generally base my expertise on my own experience in my clinic. Very rarely do I have a woman skip in my practice door singing the praises of the pill – because she’s coming to me out of a need to fix her body. This isn’t to say that some women cruise on through life happily on the pill, no doubt. It has always been my patients that motivate me to seek answers – my appetite to really understand the pill was driven by women close to me needing answers.
So in my experience, will skipping periods stuff up your cycles – probably not. Will being on the pill stuff up your cycles? Absolutely, at least for the thousands of women I’ve dealt with. It’s not that skipping periods is the real issue here, it’s the long term effects of the pill that are the real problem.
But the clincher… “Is it ok to stop your body from doing what it is meant to do every month?” This is an actual question? To stop your body doing what it is supposed to innately do each and every month. Logic tells me no. Clinic based evidence confirms this. The women I see in my clinic have been able to experience for themselves the disastrous effects of the pill because let’s realize that the pill takes our hormones offline. The intricate ebbs and flows of oestrogen and progesterone are essential for all round hormone balance. Whilst on the pill, this special hormone cha cha doesn’t get to play out.
The list of health concerns that are raised as a direct consequence of the pill are frightening. Suggesting it’s perfectly safe to skip a period, but not for more a minute more than 3 months seems a little contradictory. Proclaiming this won’t affect your fertility – dangerous. Who actually knows? Truthfully nobody, since our hormone health and fertility lies on the state of our constitution, our genetic make up, the state of our gut health and our environment. If we have a strong constitution, the right genes and great gut health we will in theory be less affected by the pill, but if we inherit poor gut health, present with hormone issues from a young age (late onset of menstruation or know hurdles like PCOS or endometriosis), the long term effects of the pill can be disastrous.
I must be some kind of superwoman to have to factored in my period each month for the last 23 years. Since the article suggested, women who were ‘on the go a lot and can’t afford to have a period’ should consider skipping their period. As a busy working mother, I’m left wondering did I actually manage to fit all that in? That whole two minutes it takes me to go to the bathroom several times a day. Where’s my award? Granted, some women experience debilitating periods for whatever reason. I’m not saying the pill may not provide a great short term solution, but fixing the core of the issue is the only way to ever over come these conditions. Endometriosis, hormone imbalance, PCOS, thyroid troubles – anyone can thrive with the right level of care and support. Diet and lifestyle is absolutely key for these women to lay the foundation for wellness
Women, we are smart beings. We intuitively know so much about ourselves, yet we may second guess our intuition when we hear claims such as these. Skipping your period, whilst maybe it seems convenient, please, think about the long term consequences of the pill. Think about the real reasons why infertility is on the climb, why 20% of women have PCOS and why we aren’t getting any healthier collectively. Most of all, collect as much information as you can so that you can make a sound and informed decision based on your own individual needs. Nobody should have more of a vested interested in their health than you.
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