People who menstruate are intimately familiar with the periodic bleeding that begins in adolescence and continues for what feels like all of eternity.
Many of us spend most of our adult lives on hormonal contraceptives, whether for preventing unwanted pregnancy or for a host of other reasons, like easing severe premenstrual symptoms and improving acne.
Some cycles are on-the-dot regular, and some are completely erratic. Whatever yours is like, you probably learned from an early age to always be prepared.
Friend or stranger, t’s an unwritten code that if anyone needs a hygiene product, we will hand it over immediately.
Large portions of a person’s budget are often devoted to these products. There are other costs, too: heating pads and medication for cramps, back aches, headaches, and iron deficiency.
And of course, your chosen birth control method is only sometimes free with insurance.
Some methods, such as traditional IUDs and condoms, are non-hormonal. A large majority of options contain one or more hormones.
These forms of contraceptives can alter a woman’s cycle.
They often reduce the frequency and severity of menstruation so much that a period while on birth control hardly resembles a period at all.
The reason for this comes down to the science of hormones. Today’s pills can prevent pregnancy in multiple ways.
How ‘The Pill’ Works
Some hormones prevent ovulation from occurring at all. You won’t release an egg for sperm to fertilize.
Just in case an egg does get released and fertilized, there is a second level of protection. Hormones prevent the uterine lining from thickening. If it’s not thick, a fertilized egg cannot attach.
Normally the uterine lining builds throughout your cycle, and then it sheds when the egg doesn’t implant.
Some oral contraceptives use the right combination of hormones and placebo pills to imitate a naturally occurring cycle.
Because the pills have prevented the lining from growing as thick and robust as it otherwise would, there is less to shed, and thus less cramping and lighter bleeding.
Switching to an alternate form of birth control after many years on the pill can be quite startling.
If you want to learn more, Dr. Crawford has videos she has shared on YouTube that describe what happens during a menstral cycle in more details. She also has a podcast!
But remember, everyone is different, and so are their experiences of their cycles both on and off the pill.
What has your experience been like?