That “time of the month” can cause many mixed feelings for women. Sometimes you may dread it, and other times you may welcome its monthly recurrence. Now there are newer birth control options that allow you to “skip” your period.
According to Dr. Ray Pourang Kamali, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center while the debate on this topic is plentiful, “medical literature confirms that women do not ‘need’ to have a monthly cycle.”
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go back to the beginning and revisit why you get your period.
The life cycle of your period
“The period is a part of the reproductive cycle,” Dr. Kamali begins.
The chain reaction starts at the beginning of the monthly cycle, when your ovary prepares an egg for ovulation. As the egg matures, it produces estrogen. That estrogen stimulates the lining of the uterus, which produces tissue and blood. This tissue and blood helps support a pregnancy — if the egg is fertilized, then a pregnancy will occur. At the end of the cycle, if there is no pregnancy, the tissue and blood detach from the uterus, and so begins your period.
While menstruation may seem necessary, medical literature and clinical experience do not show any health risks from continuous birth control use and the absence of a monthly period, Dr. Kamali confirms.
“The only drawback to skipping your period is that some women have unpredictable moments of breakthrough bleeding or spotting, while others respond very well and have no breakthrough bleeding,” he says.
Dr. Kamali cautions that skipping your period can only be managed when you are on birth control prescribed by your primary OBGYN.
“Women who are not taking birth control need to have a monthly cycle to show they are not pregnant,” reminds Dr. Kamali, who recommends seeing an OBGYN if you are not having regular periods.
FAQs about your period
Dr. Kamali weighs in on a few common questions about menstruation.
Why do you get cramps?
Cramps are due to the contraction of the muscles of the uterus to “squeeze out” tissue and blood during menstruation.
What causes PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome — also known as PMS — is a decrease in estrogen and progesterone near the end of the menstrual cycle before your period. Dr. Kamali believes that this change in the hormonal environment causes the PMS symptoms. “Some women are more sensitive to this change and this is why the severity of these symptoms varies in different women,” he says.
Why do you crave certain foods during this time?
Although there is no sure one answer to why you crave certain foods, there are many aspects to these cravings. “They may be the body’s way of demanding nutrients like iron, which is lost during menstruation,” offers Dr. Kamali. Some experts think these cravings are due to the decrease in progesterone and the hormonal change that occurs at this time. Others think eating chocolate or carbohydrates produces serotonin, which has a calming and relaxing effect.