My Sister’s Song Medicalizing Young Women – A Dangerous Trend
By Dr. Sherrill Sellman
These days, young women are besieged by many challenges. Social pressures,
economic concerns, health problems, schoolwork, and family tensions all
tilt the stress barometer into the dangerous red zone. Skipping meals,
eating junk food along with starvation diets have become a way of life
for teenagers. More than ever, young women seem to be burning the candle
at both ends.
Women’s life styles and behaviors directly affect their physical
and emotional wellbeing, both for the short and long term. It’s
no wonder that their hormonal health is under attack. Premenstrual Syndrome
(PMS), painful periods, irregular or absent periods, ovarian cysts, polycystic
ovaries, fibrocystic breast disease (lumpy, painful breasts) endometriosis,
hormonal migraines, fibroids, acne, allergies, fatigue and mood swings
are occurring in young women at epidemic rates. Many girls try to ignore
their health problems hoping they will disappear. Others schedule appointments
with their doctors.
Odds on, they will leave the doctor’s office with either a pre¬scription
drug or some version of the
Birth Control Pill.
Rather than perceiving hormonal imbalances as aberrations created by the
many abuses of modern life. Medicine has convinced women that menstruation
itself, is the problem and those natural menstrual cycles are dangerous,
disease producing and require medical intervention. Doctors have also
convinced many women that their ovaries are the villains behind their
health problems and emotional turmoil. The solution: shut it down. The
method: some form of birth control!
The erroneous notion that menstruation is a rather unpleasant, toxic process
has been around for a hundreds, if not thousands of years. So has the
belief that the source of a woman’s suffering resides within her
ovaries, uterus and her menstrual flow.
In a syndicated column written by a well-known Australian doctor a reader
asked the following question. “My doctor told me recently that monthly
periods were now regarded by some as a ‘disease’ and totally
preventable. Is this true?” His reply. “Why should women be
burdened with loss of valuable blood each month, which is often not manufactured
in similar amounts, often leading to anemia and chronic tiredness? Taking
the active ingredients of the oral contraceptive pill daily, with no seven-day
break solves the problem.”
The sentiment that periods are a disease – or at least a most unwelcome,
unproven and unsafe physiological process – reflects a growing trend
amongst both physicians and pharmaceutical companies to promote the theory
that menstrual cycles should be eliminated.
Leading the charge to eradicate menstruation is Dr. Elsimar Coutinho, Professor
of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Human Reproduction in Brazil. In his book,
“Is Menstruation Obsolete?” Dr. Coutinho argues that monthly
bleeding is not the “natural” state of women and that actually
places them at risk of various medical conditions. The author maintains
that menstruation is neither medically meaningful nor sound. He asserts
that prehistoric women had fewer than 160 periods in their lifetime. On
the other hand, modern women, start menstruating earlier, and spend less
time pregnant, and have more than 400 menstrual cycles.
Dr. Coutinho believes that women should be able to choose the timing and
frequency of their periods. In ad¬dition to perceiving menstruation
as a failed process, he also contends that it is devoid of beneficial
effects and may even be harmful to women’s health. Coutinho’s
work suggests that the most medically advanced “treat¬ment”
for menstruation would be its total cessation in all reproductive- aged women.
According to Dr. Coutinho, the profoundly complicated reproductive system
that has taken millions of years of evolutionary fine-tuning has now been
declared obsolete and harmful. Medical science is about to provide the
rationale and the means to make menstruation completely disappear. The
solutions are simple: just give all women a continuous low dose birth
control pill which is used continuously for 84 days followed by a seven-day
break. This will allow only 4 bleeds a year. (By mimicking pregnancy,
the Pill literally shuts down the ovaries, and causes a forced bleed each
month not a natural menstrual cycle).
Physicians and researchers alike have enthusiastically embraced Dr. Coutinho’s
theory. They see no reason why all women wouldn’t want to have fewer
periods. Whether is a problem such as migraines or the just the “inconvenience
and messiness” of menstruation, the Pill can now come to the rescue.
Now that “medical advances” have conquered menstruation and
drug companies’ glossy marketing campaigns have succeeded in extolling
the Pill’s virtuosity, what has actually been achieved? What does
the future por¬tend for all the young women presently seduced by these
promises? Does the Pill really improve a woman’s health? Or, will
it contribute to a health catastrophe of unparalleled proportions?
The Shocking Facts About the Pill
The pill has become the most popular method for birth control. But, in
recent years, oral contraceptives have increasingly been prescribed to
young women for noncontraceptive purposes. The Pill has become the darling
of the medical world for treating just about any hormonal problem a girl
may have and then some. To date, the Pill is prescribed for acne, to “regulate”
periods, for heavy bleeding, and painful periods, to treat PMS, endome-triosis,
migraines, ovarian cysts and polycystic ovaries. The Pill is even prescribed
to girls as young as thirteen for acne.
The Pill is said to be one of the safest drugs around. But is it?
In December 2002, the US government published its biannual Report on Carcinogens
that added all steroidal estrogens to the list of “known”
human carcinogens. The gravity of this finding cannot be overstated: all
estrogens used in HRT and oral contraceptives have now been proven, unequivocally,
to cause cancer!
To make matters even worse, synthetic progesterone (proteins) such as Provera
or Depo-Provera, used in HRT, oral contraceptives, injections and implants
are also listed as carcinogens.
This is the indisputable fact: the ingredients of the Pill, whatever its
formulation, cause cancer. How can any carcinogens be deemed safe especially
when given to vulnerable young women? Studies have linked estrogens and
progestins to breast, ovarian, endometrial, cervical, skin, brain and
There is nothing natural about taking the Pill. As a result of the Pill,
a woman’s ovaries may be permanently damaged, resulting in infertility.
Fabio Bertarelli, a billionaire manufacturer of fertility drugs told the
Wall Street Journal: “Our usual customers are women over 30 who
have been taking birth-control pills since they were teenagers or in their
Contraception formulas also increase the risk of coronary artery disease,
immune dysfunction, liver toxicity, strokes, blood clots, osteoporosis,
gum disease, high blood pressure and ectopic pregnancies. The side-effects
include nausea, vomiting, migraine-type headaches, breast tenderness,
allergies, weight increases, changes in sex drive, depression, head hair
loss, facial hair growth, colitis, Crohn’s disease and increased
incidence of vaginitis. Many of these effects may persist long after the
discontinuation of the Pill.
In addition, the Pill depletes Vitamin B1, B2, B6, Folic Acid, B 12, vitamins
C, E, K, zinc, selenium, magne¬sium and the amino acid tyrosine, essential
for proper thyroid function.
Even more alarming is the fact that the earlier a woman uses the Pill the
greater the risk of developing breast cancer and also having a worse prognosis.
One disturbing study showed that the Pill caused chromosomal aberrations
in the breast tissue of young female users. This research was further
backed up with a study show¬ing that there was a 100 percent increased
risk of breast cancer, which extended from 10 years of pill use down to
just three months! So, it is of no surprise that women as young as 17
years old, are now being diagnosed with breast cancer.
In one landmark study, researchers found that women who took the Pill before
the age of 20 and were later diagnosed with breast cancer, have tumors
with the worse prognoses than do breast cancer patients who started taking
the Pill at a later age or had not previously taken it. Another study
found this most terrifying result: the younger the women were at the time
of diagnosis, the greater the possibility they would die within five years.
Echoing these findings, the U.S. National Cancer Institute published a
study in 2003 showing that the risk of breast cancer was significantly
increased for women between the ages of 20-34 who had used the Pill for
at least six months.
Progestins make their own mischief, raising “bad” cholesterol
and blood pressure, altering sugar metabolism, compromising the immune
system, and creating undesirable masculinizing effects. One study found
that women who used Depo-Provera before the age of 25 increased their
relative risk of breast cancer by 50 percent and for women using it for
six or more years; their risk was raised significantly to 320 percent.
Of further concern are studies showing that oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera
contribute to bone loss in adolescents.
With the arrival of the continuous low dose Pill, normal menstrual cycles
are now fair game for the drug companies. This option appeals to many
young women who believe that menstrual cycles are, indeed, “a curse”
and an unnecessary inconvenience. Nutritionally depleted diets, stress
and environmental toxins, the real culprits of menstrual irregularities
and hormonal imbalances, have been all but ignored by doctors who prefer
to opt for a quick drug fix.
Getting healthy is really the challenge before us. Understanding the immense
importance of a healthy diet, good nutritional support, exercise, relaxation
techniques along with the guidance of competent holistic health practitioners
is the only way to truly assist young women to regain their hormonal health
and ensure their fertil¬ity.
Should menstruation, an intrinsic expression of a woman’s physiological
and psychological self, ever be made obsolete? Absolutely not!
Excerpted from Dr. Sellman’s newly released book “What Women MUST Know To Protect Their Daughters From Breast Cancer”
Dr. Sherrill Sellman holds a Doctorate of Naturopathy and a Bachelor of
Arts Degree (magna cum laude) – Sociology and Psychology. She is
an internationally acclaimed lecturer and best selling author of “Hormone Heresy” and “What Women MUST Know To Protect Their Daughters From Breast Cancer.” To subscribe to Sherrill’s free monthly newsletter go tohttp://www.whatwomenmustknow.com She can be contacted at