My basic reaction to the development of drugs that suppress menstruation is: "WHOO-HOO! Where can I get some?" As I mentioned in my last post, I don't quite understand the notion of a woman wanting to continue to menstruate 12 times a year when she doesn't have to. With perfect timing, Rachel at Alas, A Blog posted an excellent, well thought out piece outlining her reasons for "want[ing] her period," focusing primarily on her concern that menstruation will be (more than ever) framed as abnormal, bad, or gross. In part she is worried that encouragement of this view will reinforce the phenomenon of women feeling shame about their bodies and that women will be pressured/encouraged into taking menstruation suppressents in order to reach some ideal of sexual attractiveness regardless of the potential consequences for their health (given that the long term health effects of menstruation suppressents are not well known).
I think these are valid concerns. But no matter how you slice it, menstruation, while nothing to be ashamed of, is inconvenient. It is something that must be addressed several times a day, and in the middle of the night, for approximately one week every month. If I don't have to do it, I don't wanna. For many women, it is accompanied by discomfort or pain. Here is what I said in the comments section at Alas:
I think you are absolutely right to be leery of how this thing is going be marketed and treated in our culture. I can absolutely see it being treated like something women should do to make themselves more sexually appealing to men, regardless of the consequences for the women. And I can see that kind of reinforcing all sorts of damaging notions. I can also imagine a class divide by which menstruation will become associated with poorer women who can’t afford this medication.
But unlike many other things that women are encouraged to do for the sake of sex appeal (such as undergoing plastic surgery or wearing spike heels), this one has the potential to make our lives much easier (assuming that this drug is safe over the long term).
To me, this medication has always been linked to the idea of my convenience and my control. I am not ashamed of my period or grossed out by my period. But I do find it inconvenient. And that’s a good enough reason for me to hope that the Pharma folks get cracking on studying the potential health effects. My body exists for my pleasure and convenience and anything that can enhance those two things safely is a net positive in my book!