Q: Getting your period in the summer is such a drag. Is it safe to make it stop temporarily?
A: The short answer is yes. Now, for the long answer.
We are traditionally accustomed to a “natural” menstruation cycle, which occurs monthly. In this cycle, your hormones trigger your brain to release an egg and thicken the uterine lining, in preparation for a pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy, your uterine lining sheds due to a withdrawal of hormones.
However, if you are using hormonal contraception, there is usually no ovulation so instead your body mimics that hormone withdrawal when you take your placebo birth control pills or remove your ring or patch.
So, does that make it OK to fool Mother Nature? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer.
There has been much debate on this topic within the medical community over the years.
Some physicians, me included, think it is reasonable for a healthy woman to suppress her menses, with guidance from her health-care provider, for a period of time without significant risk to her health.
However, the effect of continuous hormone use has not been extensively studied, so there are some doctors who don’t support this view. Many question the effects this may have on bone heath, heart health, fertility, and raising the risk of certain types of cancer. It’s also important to remember that the use of birth control in and of itself does carry some risk factors, including blood clots or stroke.
The best advice is to discuss your plans with your health-care provider who can tell you, based on your personal health history, whether or not it is advisable for you.
Joanne Kakaty-Monzo, DO, is chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.