Archive for April, 2008

Periods and withdrawal bleeds

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008


I’ve pasted a message from a reader (and my response) below.



I am 25 years old. For the past 6 months I have been ill with what turns out to be a parasite infection (I will begin an intense antibiotic treatment in about a month, after my wedding). My illness led me to completely change my lifestyle which I am very
greatful for. For the past 3 months, my diet has been in accordance with the Weston Price Foundation and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. I eat plenty of butter and have my cod liver oil every day. I drink raw, cultured milk. I don’t eat soy, sugar, or any processed or refined foods.

I had been on birth control pills for 7 years and quit taking them 3 months ago. After the last “period” started a couple days after I quit taking the pill, I have not had a period in 3 months. My gynecologist wants me to take a natural form of progesterone (derived from peanut oil?) so I will have a period. She told me it is unhealthy to have the lining buildup without shedding it monthly, and 3 months is the maximum I should leave it “untreated”. She said if that doesn’t make me bleed then there is a whole slew of tests that she can run to make sure nothing else is going on.

I think having this infection has just caused my body to go haywire, and I want to return to health as naturally and gently as possible. Do you think it is unhealthy to let my body return to its natural cycle without using the hormone? Do the benefits outweigh the risks of using the progesterone?

Thank you so much for your help with this. I completely trust your advice with this issue.

My response:

Let me clarify a few things. First, a “period” is bleeding that follows ovulation. When you bleed without having ovulated the bleeding that you experience is a “withdrawal bleed.” It is not a “period.” Most prescriptions for birth control prevent you from ovulating; the bleeding that you experience on the Pill is therefore a withdrawal bleed. A few prescriptions do not prevent ovulation. But they repress other key parts of the menstrual cycle. You might want to look at the cervix pictures on my site to get an image of what the Pill does to the cervix.

If you have been taking birth control pills for 7 years, since you were a teenager, then your body has not ovulated for a long time. The years 18-25 are significant for most women’s bodies as a time of learning to cycle in a healthy way. I salute you
for learning about your body now. You will need to be gentle with yourself as your body learns to cycle naturally.

My books, THE GARDEN OF FERTILITY and HONORING OUR CYCLES describe night lighting techniques and other remedies (such as acupuncture and homeopathy) that can help your body return to health. I appreciate that your doctor wants your uterine lining to shed regularly. But perhaps you can continue to collect information and experiment with treatments that can lead to healing the roots of your menstrual cycle.

Best of luck,

Katie Singer