The Sexist

The Morning After: Reasons I Skip My Period Edition


* I am one of those magical unicorns who suppresses her period with hormonal birth control. I do this for three reasons:

1. I prefer not to bleed out of my vagina for several days each month;

2. I prefer not to experience menstrual cramps for several days each month;

3. I really fucking prefer not to have my emotional reactions reduced to popular culture's pseudo-scientific understanding of my menstrual cycle for several days each month. Case in point:  "Code Red," a new iPhone app for men that allows them to chart our cycles, helping them to predict when we'll be horny, when we'll be bitchy, and when we'll bleed on their penises, I guess? Fuck it: I'd rather not have a menstrual cycle at all than risk the possibility of having my righteous bitchiness be discounted as irrational, that-time-of-the-month bitchiness.


* Via Feministing: Performance artist Ivan E. Coyote's love-letter to femmes.

* Also on Feministing, an anonymous essay on how passing as heterosexual can complicate a queer woman's relationship with her community.

* Heartless Doll argues against prom, as the practice largely functions as a creepy and exclusionary mass High School Wedding. Co-sign.

* Consent and hair cuts.

* On Nerve, guy loses his virginity by hiring a  "sex surrogate" . . . the same sex surrogate employed by his also-virginal roommate, Scott:

Later, when Scott got home from his own "getting acquainted" session, we realized we both had the same surrogate. Maybe Dr. Klein had planned it that way for some mysterious therapeutic reason. Or maybe Jan was the only surrogate who worked for him. Either way, once Jan found out that Scott and I were roommates, she sensed our natural competitiveness and played us off each other. She would fill us in on each other's sessions, telling us how well the other had performed. Sometimes, she would make it sound like we were getting away with something, going beyond our prescribed allotment of sex. "Oh, we shouldn't be doing this," she would tease. "Don't tell Scott, it'll be our little secret." After our sessions, we'd brag about our milestones. Soon, it became unclear which was more important — losing my virginity or beating Scott.

  • AJ

    I skip it because, if I am going to use hormonal contraception, I don't have a choice:

    1. Each pill I've tried over the past 15 years (and that's a lot of pills) has its own special brand of horrendous effects on me, from physical to emotional,
    2. The contraceptive implant made me bleed and cry daily for a few months until I had it removed,
    3. Even *trying* the injection is a no-go for the same reason as the implant.

    As a last-ditch effort my doctor suggested the Mirena IUS despite the fact that I've never had children. I wish I had found it years ago; I have no emotional or physical side-effects apart from one: I don't have periods at all. And frankly, that's a benefit.

  • AJ

    (Of course, I've used the term "skip" loosely there. It just doesn't happen.)

  • AJ

    Also (and sorry about three posts in a row here), dear men: it's called PRE-menstrual syndrome for a reason. If we are bitchy because of PMS we are not "on the rag"; by the time we're actually "on the rag" we're generally more peaceful. If you're going to be an asshole you could at least aim for technical correctness.

  • groggette

    I’d rather not have a menstrual cycle at all than risk the possibility of having my righteous bitchiness be discounted as irrational, that-time-of-the-month bitchiness.

    Unfortunately you don't have to be on or anywhere near your period for this to happen :(

  • EmilyBites

    Wow, that performance piece by Ivan E. Coyote is awesome. I laughed and laughed out of sheer joy, and I loved it! I have never seen any of her work before but I'll be looking for more rightnow. Thanks so much Amanda.

  • whodat

    I especially love this line: "I’d rather not have a menstrual cycle at all than risk the possibility of having my righteous bitchiness be discounted as irrational, that-time-of-the-month bitchiness."

    If I'm a bitch it's cause it's cause I'm being a bitch..... don't try to tell me "someone's PMSingggg" cause I WILL shoot you.

  • Megan

    What groggette said. I use non-hormonal birth control (an IUD) because it's super super cheap and effective. I like having my period - not because it's super happy and cramp-free, it's not, I just really enjoy that "YAY I'M NOT PREGNANT" reminder.

  • Em

    If you're like me and hormonal birth control makes you a loony, loony lady, then said man in your life realizes how NOT invasive normal hormones and PMS are. I thought about trying again, after countless pills that made me hysterical and mean, and he said, "Really, I think we're good using condoms, I like you being you."

    Noted, not everyone responds to birth control this way. I think my body just can't take a tampering of the hormones without going completely psychotic.

  • Alex

    From one AJ to another - I went through pretty much the same thing; from being told I had to stop one BCP because it would probably give me a stroke, to another which kept me up till 2am sobbing, yet another which had the same effects as the implant had for you, avoiding the injection for the same reasons...
    Why the hell can't pharmaseuticals get it together and come up with a male BCP already? Or at least something that doesn't put women through the emotional wringer quite so much?

  • Tash


    "Or at least something that doesn’t put women through the emotional wringer quite so much?"

    Well really not all of them do, it's just a matter of finding the one that works best for you. Usually (at least in my experience) the higher the estrogen in the pill, the more insane it made me. Orthotricyclen28 is one of the lowest in estrogen (last I checked) and I'm a skipper...have been for almost a year, and I've yet to have a problem with it.
    Good Luck

  • Eo

    It was woman that pressurised and campaigned for men to make reliable birthcontrol for women, which men did and now Im reading a page of whining and implications of patriarchal conspiracy because there are sometimes side effects.

    There are plenty of women who are emotionally stable enough to take the pill withour side effects.

  • Tash for male birth control pills--I'm continually amazed that when men ask "Are you on the pill?" and we say "Yes" that they just believe it without any sort of confirmation----ESPECIALLY since I'd bet any money that if a reliable male b/c pill were invented, we women would ask for that confirmation. Maybe big pharma realizes this...or maybe the assumption is that there would not be a big enough market for a male pill? How many men do you think would take it? Especially if they knew they wouldn't be believed for doing so? I'm not saying that men are sexually irresponsible, I'm saying that sometimes it feels as though society perceives them that way.

  • BradMillersHero

    I have never had any emotional problems associated with my period- which makes it all the more mystifying (and frustrating) when someone makes a comment about me being bitchy because its "that time". These are the same people that I am a bitch to 24/7/364. Oh well.

  • AJ

    Eo, I don't think any amount of emotional stability (or lack thereof) causes daily bleeding for months. Some pills do have unpleasant physical side effects too.

    I don't think anyone blames that on a patriarchal conspiracy, if only because if men deliberately caused that behavior in women they'd soon find that they weren't getting any!

    However, I do think many men and women would welcome reliable hormonal birth control for men too, in cases where the pill isn't a great option. As I understand it, male pills exist and are reliable, but men don't like the fact that their testicles get smaller when they take it. I can see that that could be distressing.

  • Eo

    Hi Aj

    I see men who are paranoid about being set up, parental fraud or a genuine accidental pregnancy and male feminists talking it to make a statment along the lines of "look im sharing your burden" but for most single guys, sex is unpredictable, they dont know when its going to happen and someone else decides when and where it does happen. Keeping a condom in his wallet just in case is one thing, talking a chemical that shrinks his testicles evey day on the off change that someone decides that hes going to have sex is quite another another.

    I imagine murphys law type situations, he might wonder why hes bothering to take it and stops and the next day his dry spell ending!

    I used to joke that women should come with guage so that we could read where their cycle is at because thats something that most women when asked dont know which always baffeled me a little, if we have a system like that phone application we can at least know when the risk of pregnancy is higher or lower. So that IMO opinion is a good idea, I have myself in the past kept track myself for that very reason.

  • Kat

    Eo - I don't know why you think that scenario is any different for ladies who take birth control?

    I guess expecting single ladies who might not know when they are going to have sex next but keep taking a chemical that increases risks of blood clots, strokes, and can mess with yours moods everyday seems like a more logical choice? I am pretty confused with your stance here.

    I don't think fertility tracking is a bad thing, but I don't really think that fertility was what dudes were thinking about when this iPhone app was designed.

  • DanceDreaming

    Eo's stance is that he's a troll.

    Also, there isn't effective male BC yet, from everything I can tell, with or without teste shrinking effects(side effects of early tries were more in the range of weight gain, hair loss, excess body hair and rage issues rather then teste shrinking). Lots of things being tested, plenty of money -finally- being thrown at it, nothing through the pipe yet. Likely the first thing to hit will be either an injection or an injection/implant, testosterone/progestin combo(as T gets soaked up in the liver too easy for an oral medication). Other things are being looked at too.

    Stopping sperm production just seems to be turning out to be much harder then stopping eggs. There are a lot more of them, and even one is enough.

  • DanceDreaming

    Plus, fertility tracking as BC is awful. Most importantly it's incredibly ineffective. Single least effective form of BC, except maybe telling kids nothing about sex except 'abstain'.

    On top of that, scheduling sex around it? Ugh. Between the week or 2 of 'high fertility', and PMS(when generally she isn't interested), and her period itself(when he generally isn't, and she often isn't either)... What kind of window does that leave?

    Skipping it altogether works nicely, if you can find something that works for you.