Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

How to overcome resistance to Cycle-Stopping Contraception (a physician’s guide)

May 12th, 2010 by Chris Hitchcock

If you’re wondering why your doctor might not take you seriously when you question taking the pill to abolish your periods, you might want to look at this piece of advice.

I had a look at the Clinical Advisor magazine information – it looks like they pay for articles, help to massage them into shape, but as far as I can tell the articles are not peer-reviewed, and the editorial staff do not have any credentials after their names, so they look like non-medical people. But it is freely available on the web, and apparently gets sent to many practicing physicians and nurses. And it’s a lot more readable than other sources of medical education.

The article is framed as a doctor-to-doctor question:

What can I do to overcome patient resistance to continuous use of oral contraceptives (OCs)? So many women say it’s not natural.—SHERRY HILL, ARNP, Bothell, Wash.

And, the answer? Explain the physiology, explain that there is no build up of old blood, that menstrual flow doesn’t have any effect on infections or toxins. And, for talking points, use the educational materials about cycle-stopping contraceptives on the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals web page (coincidentally funded with unrestricted educational funds from companies who happen to make cycle-stopping contraceptive products). And use Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 article, John Rock’s Error, to reframe monthly menstrual flow as a historic anomaly (“you don’t need that old-fashioned thing”) and help women to see their regular menstrual flow as unnatural, so that the synthetic drugs you are suggesting will seem less unnatural by comparison.

But, ultimately, “if a patient feels that a monthly withdrawal bleed suits her best, many OCs containing 21 active pills and seven inert pills are available.”

I guess the option of using non-hormonal contraception just won’t come up.

2 responses to “How to overcome resistance to Cycle-Stopping Contraception (a physician’s guide)”

  1. Elizabeth Kissling says:

    I am so weary of the Paleofantasy argument that menstruation is “not natural” or is some historic anomaly. When I give talks about the marketing of birth control as menstrual suppression (two so far this year, one more scheduled, and plans to submit article for publication), I’ve been incorporating my critique of this position. In a nutshell,

    1. Of course Paleolithic women had fewer than 50 periods in a lifetime: we’re talking about a population in which only the very hardy and the very lucky lived past age 25.
    2. I note that advocates of health and lifestyle claims based on the practices of Paleolithic women are very selective in what they idealize. For instance, Paleolithic women were substantially more hairy than modern women, and I don’t hear anyone clamoring for a return to body hair. Modern women are expected to remove everything but scalp and eyebrow hair (which must be carefully cultivated according to ever-changing fashion trends). Even arm hair (not just what’s under the arms) is supposed to be removed, as Virginia discovered in her under-cover beauty school studies.
  2. Laura Wershler says:

    The contempt I feel for those who try to coerce women, using all manner of false arguments, to believe that having a normal menstrual cycle is “NOT NORMAL”, is without boundary. Lisa Stern’s reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker old story is disconcerting. It has been republished in What the Dog Saw, his latest book, so is getting another kick at the cat to influence public opinion. It is time to rip his article – John Rock’s Error – and its arguments apart from stem to stern.

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