As I sit here tenderly massaging my aching abdomen and dreading tonight’s movie session with my friend because I just know I’m going to start bawling in some really stupid part for no reason, I get to thinking.
If I recall correctly (from high school biology, it’s been a while), the way birth control pills work is through a combination of estrogen and progesterone; the estrogen prevents the egg cells from maturing, and the progesterone prevents ovulation and thickens cervical mucus to prevent conception. In effect, they keep the hormone levels in the body at a steady level. A woman on the pill will not produce an egg cell once a month. However, most birth control pills work on a 3 + 1 basis, with three weeks of taking the pill and then one week’s break during which bleeding occurs. But if there’s no egg cell, what’s coming out? Does the uterine lining still prepare for a possible implantation even if there’s no mature egg cell? Wouldn’t that be something controlled by the hormones (the progesterone, I’m thinking)?
Stemming from that, I have another question. I believe that in the States, there are several birth control pills on the market which are taken 3 months in a row so menstruation only occurs four times a year. (One such brand is coming to the Finnish market sometime this year.) Now, I know that technically, you can also take “regular” birth control pills for a few packs straight in order to postpone your period. But why does menstruation have to occur at all? Is there some sort of limit as to how long you can keep on taking pills and not menstruate? Is there a health risk? Is menstruation still necessary even if a woman is not producing mature egg cells whatsoever?