Some women refer to their periods as "the curse." Now, a small group of raw vegan bloggers and YouTube stars are taking that sentiment quite literally, claiming that periods are a sign of toxicity in the body and can (and should) be stopped by changing eating habits. Gynecologist Melani Harker said that's nonsense.
"Menses is a normal physiologic function. It is one of the vital signs showing good health," she said. "It is part of being a healthy woman."
In fact, the loss of a menstrual period may be a sign of health changing for the worse. Women who are under a healthy weight and who have lost a significant amount of body fat may see their periods stop. The same is true for women who are at unhealthily overweight. "All of this is nature's way of saying this is not a healthy time to get pregnant," said Harker.
Despite the fact that having a period is normal and healthy and having it vanish may be the sign of something wrong, there still are women who would prefer not to deal with the bleeding, cramps, and other pleasantries that come knocking every month. There are also women who have such heavy periods, or who suffer from things like menstrual migraines, that stopping their periods is almost a necessity. For these women there are ways to alter the menstrual cycle - and it has nothing to do with limiting their diets.
"A doctor can help a woman stop her period with the use of birth control pills, progestin IUDs and other medications to safely suppress the buildup of the menstrual lining," said Harker. "Some women may want to do this for a medical reason, and some may want to not be having a period on vacation, wedding, or other upcoming special event."
While a woman can temporarily stop her period there really isn't a way to avoid it altogether without consequences. After all, a period is flushing out the reproductive system. "It's good to have at least four cycles a year," said Harker. "This is so the uterus does not have an unhealthy buildup of cells which can lead to cancer."
During the reproductive years, women have to deal with a menstrual cycle. No, it is not the best part of being a woman, but it's a key part. So, maybe instead of trying to hide it, promote shame around it, or look for ways to banish it, women should appreciate it.
"There is a long history or suppression of all that is feminine," said Harker. "Perhaps it is time for a change in perspective."