Can The Pill Regulate My Cycle?
Welcome to a new series I’m introducing to my blog MENSTRUAL MYTH MADNESS where I delve into some of the most common myths surrounding menstruation & everything that falls around it.
The first topic we are going to dive deep into is one of my favourites & a myth I find deeply disturbing. Let’s get into it….
Can contraceptive drugs regulate menstrual cycles?
No sorry ladies, this is a myth. Not only is it the complete opposite of the truth but this belief sets women up to live in a false sense of security, thinking they are improving their menstrual health when using these medications. Some of the misunderstanding may reside with the word regulate, which by definition means to control something, especially by making it work in a particular way. Unfortunately this isn’t really what contraceptive drugs do, this would be an accurate description if contraceptive drugs modulated your own natural hormones but the more correct way to describe their activity would be to say, inhibit & replace. The pill inhibits ovulation, replaces your hormones with synthetic versions to mimic their natural fluctuations, making women believe they have a “cycle”. They even throw in some sugar pills to add to the period illusion. Ahh breakthrough bleeding, how you have confused many. Sneaky, sneaky.
To understand how contraceptive drugs couldn’t possibly regulate a menstrual cycle it’s important we understand the mechanism of action of these medications…..
….contraceptive drugs are used to prevent ovulation by inhibiting follicular development by which the main objective is to prevent pregnancy. Progestins (synthetic progesterone in contraceptive drugs) work at the hypothalamus to reduce gonadotropin releasing hormone (GRH) secretion which decreases the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) & luteinizing hormone (LH).
If the follicle isn’t developing, we have no production of oestradiol, our main oestrogen. This lack of oestrogen in combination with progestin influences the negative feedback on LH secretion inhibiting the mid-cycle LH surge, we see in a normal menstrual cycle, in order to prevent ovulation. With no ovulation, we have no progesterone production….& no pregnancy!
This makes perfect sense because contraceptive drugs were designed to prevent pregnancy but they were not designed to regulate menstrual cycles.
Truth be told you can’t regulate a cycle that is temporarily offline. Without natural endogenously made oestrogen, progesterone, LH & FSH we have no cycle to regulate. The pill provides a combination of synthetic versions of our hormones. These hormones unfortunately do not behave anything like our natural ones, they simply aim to mimic our cycle & have us believe we have a regular menstrual cycle or are working towards improving our cycle. It's impossible to have an active & healthy menstrual cycle if there is no ovulation. Plain & simple.
is there a solution?
What really needs to change is the use of language around the pill. Let’s call it how it is. Women need to understand exactly what is happening in their bodies when they take these medications & understand that their menstrual cycles won’t be regulated or treated by using them. The conversation around the use of the pill needs to shift, prescribing the pill to to regulate cycles just isn’t best practice & doesn’t/won’t/can’t work. It was never the intended purpose of this medication & it’s slightly confusing to how it became so.
It’s important that women understand that when they use contraceptive drugs in this way their cycle will no doubt return to it’s previous state, it will likely not be better or healed. The pill is not a magic wand that makes menstrual cycles wonderful & carefree. It may momentarily but it’s all a cruel illusion. It’s much like putting gaffer tape over a gapping wound, it may catch the bleeding & you won’t see how bad the wound is but as soon as you remove it, it’s still very much a gapping wound that hasn’t healed. The pill was designed to prevent unwanted pregnancy NOT regulate the menstrual cycle. Without our own natural hormones & reproductive organs active & flourishing trying to treat menstrual dysfunction is pointless.