Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
You do not need to have your period. Yes, you read that correctly. Pandia Health Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Sophia Yen recently spoke with Amie and Sara of the Gritty Nurse on why bleeding every month is not necessary.
Birth control has many other uses besides helping prevent unplanned pregnancy. It can be used to make #PeriodsOptional, reduce PCOS pain, and clear up acne. There is also a lot of misinformation regarding skipping your period which is why it’s important for you to take control of your uterus by knowing about the history of birth control and the powers of it!
History of the Birth Control Pill
John Rock was one of the founders of the birth control pill as well as a devout Catholic. Rock was a well known OB/GYN and infertility doctor, and despite his commitment to the Catholic church, he supported birth control within marriage. Two PhDs, Min Chueh Chang, a Chinese-American reproductive biologist, and Gregory Goodwin Pincus, an American biologist and co-inventor of the birth control pill, asked Dr. Rock, “why make women bleed every month?” — why not just every 3 months, or 6 months, or never! His response was that it was unnatural for women NOT to bleed and he wanted to get the birth control pills through the Catholic church.
The Catholic church allows for a “rhythm” method which means abstaining from sex on the days a woman is fertile. Dr. Rock’s ideology was that if you made a woman fertile only on certain days, then birth control pills would be accepted and promoted by the Catholic church. He got through to the nuns and the priest but ultimately, the pope vetoed him.
As a result of Dr. Rock’s work, all birth control pills have a “fake bleed” period of 3 weeks with hormones at a certain level and the last week allows you to take the sugar pills or no pills, which then causes a withdrawal bleed due to the drop in hormone levels. That week is artificial and you can choose when you want to have it.
There are so many benefits associated with birth control, a major one being that it helps control Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Around 10% of women have PCOS, which is a hormonal imbalance involving androgens, insulin, and progesterone and can make it difficult for women to become pregnant.
The egg does not pop out which results in irregular periods and increased testosterone; this causes hairiness and acne. The job of a normal ovary involves releasing an egg every month, however the ovary is unable to do this if a woman has PCOS. Ovaries produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and make eggs. A polycystic ovary is when the ovary makes many cysts which causes the ovary to not produce an egg consistently; birth control is then used to create a hormonal balance which causes the ovary to release an egg each month.
Basically, a woman is getting a set amount of hormones, which does not happen with PCOS; so, the best time for a woman who has PCOS to get pregnant is right after she goes off birth control because her hormones are at their most normal levels.
While birth control is a tool that can help to significantly improve your quality of life, there is some news out there that is misleading.
Here are some of the most common myths regarding birth control:
- If you don’t have your period, the blood builds up.
- Envision your uterus as a “V”. Every month without hormones you are building up a lining around a level 10 every month, for example, to catch an embryo. When you don’t catch one, you bleed out to shed the lining. However, with birth control pills, you build that lining to a level 2, and it stays that way. Essentially, the blood does not build up because your body’s hormone levels change to a different “normal” level.
- If I stop my periods, I will have fertility problems.
- If you go on the birth control pill, patch, or ring, that medication is out of your body in two days once you stop taking it. For example, if you forget to take your birth control pill one day, then you bleed. That is because the medicine was skipped.
- Birth control can cause PCOS.
- Around 10% of women will get PCOS. If all of those women went on birth control and then went off of it, it is expected that 10% of the women will still have PCOS or will develop it – but it is not due to taking birth control. This is why those 10% of women coming off of birth control will have a hard time getting pregnant. It is not due to the medication but rather because those women had or got PCOS; the medicine does not give you PCOS.
- Birth control causes cancer.
- Exposure to estrogen within birth control increases your risk of breast cancer by 0.013%. However, in comparison drinking 3-5 alcoholic drinks per week creates increases your risk of getting breast cancer by 0.022%
Using Birth Control for Your Period
Once you have had your period for two years, it is fine to start using birth control because you stop growing in height two years after getting your period. If you start birth control too early after getting your first period, the hormone estrogen could cause you to lose an inch of height growth.
Parents considering whether birth control is right for their teenage daughter to help control periods must ask themselves if it will help them in their child’s everyday life – lacrosse games, final exams, etc. Taking birth control does not mean that your child will become sexually active, and there are other major benefits and reasons teenagers use birth control besides pregnancy prevention — this includes treating acne or helping with negative period side effects.
Periods can cause immense pain and discomfort which can immobilize individuals who menstruate. It is important to be informed on your birth control options and the various benefits of taking birth control because it is not solely used to prevent pregnancy.
“The number one cause of missed school or work 25 or under, is periods. That is not how it should be.” – Dr. Sophia Yen, Co-Founder and CEO of Pandia Health
At the end of the day, taking birth control is nobody’s business but yours. At Pandia Health, we bring birth control to anyone who has access to a mailbox and the internet. We are all about care, convenience, and confidentiality. If you want to #SkiptheTrip to the pharmacy to pick up your birth control prescription every single month, Pandia Health can deliver it to you by mail.
We take all insurances with the exception of Kaiser, and if you do not have insurance birth control pill packs are as low as $15. We have plenty of resources available with more information on our YouTube channel and our #PeriodsOptional Page.
The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.