The last article that I published on EmpowHer focused on the emotional effects of estrogen production within the body. The theme of that article can be reduced to the statement that a woman’s monthly cycle causes changes in her body and mind that are not always understood or recognized.
Our reproductive system is an amazing thing. Like many other mysterious processes that occur on this Earth, it seems to weave in and out of our realm of understanding. We most certainly know that we have a period and that it occurs about once a month. We also know that we’re sort of angry the days before we start menstruating, and we ovulate sometime after that. But for most women, anything beyond that basic knowledge is needlessly superfluous to greater matters of being.
The truth is that there is a lot to be gained from extended study of our reproductive cycles. Hormonal contraceptives often exclude women from knowledge of their bodies, as the constant stream of estrogen and/or progestin necessarily overpowers their natural production. But for those who endeavor to use barrier methods, natural family planning, or abstinence in order to avoid pregnancy, a whole world of physiological states are in the wings just waiting to be rediscovered.
Personally, I chose to discontinue my use of birth control pills a few months ago. After that, I found that extended use of hormonal contraceptives had blocked out the majority of emotions and desires associated with natural monthly cycles. I think it’s important to discuss these differences in order to present an accurate view of female sexuality.
Here are a few of the major changes I noticed after going off birth control pills:
1) My sex drive during fertile periods (the days before and during ovulation) has been through the roof. It turns out that high levels of estrogen incessantly prod you to procreate, regardless of who happens to be around you at the time. Who knew?
2) When I am fertile, I’m very fixated on having children. I'm planning names, cribs, and clothing. But when I am not, I couldn’t care less.
3) I have more energy when I’m fertile, whereas my infertile periods often cause me to isolate myself and shy away from any extra projects that may come my way.
4) I feel more like a woman. My pills seemed (to me) to be a barrier for the “true” female experience, and before I went au naturale, I didn’t know what women were talking about in regards to moodiness, high/low libido, the desire to have children, and the attractiveness of chocolate.
For many women, especially those who are not in a committed relationship, hormonal contraceptives are extremely efficacious and liberating. They allow us to go about our lives without worrying about pregnancy, which is a major change to our body and lifestyle.
But for those who are not currently on birth control, identifying the experiences involved in a healthy menstrual cycle can be a great way to connect with your body in a way you never have before.
Shaina Gaul is a feminist and freelance writer living in Iowa. View more of her writing at http://www.couchSpud.net.