Womb Wars

Here’s an interesting study in contrasts.

Period: Full Stop?
For Many Women, a ‘Normal’ Menstrual Cycle Is Now One They Can Control — or Suppress

"Encouraged by drug marketers, more women are opting to reduce the length or frequency of their menstrual periods, or skip them altogether — and even trading tips online for how to do it."

Forever Pregnant
Guidelines: Treat Nearly All Women as Pre-Pregnant

"New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves — and to be treated by the health care system — as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon."


Comments 2

  1. Rob wrote:

    On the first, for some women, being able to eliminate periods would be a wonderful thing. Even with BCPs, a good friend in college had miserable cramping that would incapacitate her.

    The long-term effects aren’t known, but so far there don’t seem to be any problems. On general principles, there are reasons for thinking there might be good and bad effects — the bad from the typical BCP problems (CVA, etc.), the good from the lack of repeated renewal of the lining of the uterus. The latter requires a lot of regeneration of cells, always a hallmark of something that tends to produce cancer. There are some other theoretical possibilities of good effects from eliminating women’s periods, not the least of which might be freeing them from their monthly cycles.

    But as of right now, anyone doing so does face uncertainty. There’s just not enough long-term information, and there are no good animal models that would cover all the human contingencies. Among mammals, human reproduction is weird and even a bit defective.

    As for the second, this is a gross misrepresentation of the original report. The report was focused on the lack of medical care in the United States for women and how this contributes to our abysmally high infant mortality rate. The report suggests that any time a doctor gets to see a woman, he explains the things the woman would need to know for both continued good personal health and if she wishes to become pregnant some time in the future. The interventions that help prepare a woman for pregnancy are also interventions that are known to prolong the lives of women in general — even women that never have children. For example, folic acid supplementation is known to both protect the health of the woman (it cuts down on certain cancers something no other increased dosage of a vitamin has shown with any decent reliability) and prevent neural tube defects in any possible offspring.

    The report does not recommend that women be denied drugs that treat illnesses, simply based on the possibility they might become pregnant.

    The initial news report, while providing great fodder for the political left, was actually produced by a right-wing paper. Everyone’s using the report to gore their own particular target ox, without reading what the report actually said.

    I was going to blog about it at the time, but I didn’t. If you go back through “Clicked” on MSNBC, you should find a link to at least one of the “Handmaid’s Tale” blog storms and a rebuttal that pointed out how the newspaper punted the science.

    Posted 20 Jun 2006 at 10:46 pm
  2. Peter wrote:

    Regarding the first article, on the suppression of menstruation, I’m not going to tell women they have to menstruate. Are you? Sorry, but if women want to suppress their menstruation with drugs and risk unknown potential long-term adverse side effects, that’s their business, just like it’s your business if you feel like smoking a pack a day, or cultivating whatever other bad habit.

    Regarding the second article, on federal guidelines for how women ought to behave to keep themselves in good health for childbearing, not only am I not going to tell women (or men) how they ought to behave, it is completely inappropriate for the government to be telling people — women or men — how to manage their health. That’s not their job, damn it.

    Posted 21 Jun 2006 at 11:52 am

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