The Birth of Athena

lift the weight. fight the power. eat the candy.

Female Food for Thought Regarding Aunt Flo and Exercise

(I originally posted this article on my personal blog on May 21st, 2011)

I spend a lot of time on the internet interacting with different fitness communities. One of the largest complaints/irritations from the female population(side note: I am aware that many people are uncomfortable with the term female as it is “science-y” however, due to fact that using the gendered term “woman” might isolate people from this discussion who should otherwise be involved, I actively choose the world female for this situation) group is that being on the rag (additionally, I am going to use as many euphemisms as possible because they are silly) makes exercising far more difficult or even prevents them from exercising.

Now, there are different levels of shark week that cause different reactions. It does, in fact, make nearly every female feel like absolute shit. However, for some, it makes exercising extraordinarily difficult or impossible. Choosing/needing/wanting to exercise depends on how it makes you feel. For some females, they find that Ridin’ the Cotton Pony simply makes them more tired and they feel crampy and swollen. However, many of these people find that simply downing the intensity, but continuing to work out is the best solution for them. Some others are able to carry on with their regularly scheduled programming as if they were not on the rag, which is fantastic.

However, there are lots of people who find that Falling to the Communists means that they simply cannot workout. Take previous me, for example. I had some serious Crimson Tide issues. Not only was I unable to get out of bed for the better half of a week, but my cramps were debilitating (as in, left me in the fetal position, sobbing) AND I was bleeding through a super tampon in an hour. This went on for almost 4 years (this was during college and I found that living near other females really and terribly high stress levels really messed with my cycle). I was hardly capable of being a person when Miss Scarlett Came to Tea, let alone exercise. It wasn’t until I brought myself to “the clinic” (what my mother called it when she became worried that I was dying and told me I needed to see a doctor) that I realized that I had pretty much been lied to my entire life (thanks! sex education!) and I want to share this information because, if you are anything like me, there is a chance that you also do not know it.

FACT: There is no biological need for a period when you are on birth control pills.

FACT: The period that you have while on birth control pills is not a real period.

FACT: The reason why you take the white pills is because when birth control was first made in the early 20th century, the makers thought that women would be freaked out if they did not bleed once a month (Lots of women still are, but I will get to that in a moment).

These are three facts that the clinician shared with me. These are three facts that have truly altered my life for the better.The clinician also shared with me that women in the military have skipped their playing time in Sgt. Zygote’s Ragtime Band for decades.

Here are some ways in which my life has changed for the better since I decided to skip my time with the beast:

  • I no longer cry in pain every month.
  • It has taken a bit, but my hormones have settled down and I no longer get the PMS-y emotions any more.
  • It took a while, but I do not get cramps any more. They slowly started to dissipate, and after 4 months of not missing  pills, I no longer get them.
  • I feel a lot more energetic. My body isn’t using my precious resources to re-line my uterine wall every month.
  • I spend way, way, way less time fretting about bleeding. I don’t have to plan for vacations, parties, beach time. I don’t have to worry about forgetting necessary supplies. I don’t have to worry about ruining my favorite panties or my light jeans. SO much less stressful.
  • Money saved on feminine hygiene products.
  • I am always protected.
  • I get to exercise ALL THE TIME!

Now, when some people finds out that I skip all my towel times, they freak out. I have some answers to questions that I often get. If you have any more, feel free to drop me a line.

  1. “But, how can you tell if you are pregnant?” Firstly, skipped period is probably the most unreliable source for determining whether you are pregnant. Periods are skipped all the time for any number of reasons. Not to mention, especially if a person is on the pill, they may even continue to have “periods” while pregnant. Seriously, if this is a major concern of yours, always keep a box of tests around. There is a reason you can buy 2 of them at a time. Secondly, if you worry about pregnancy, there are a few things you can do, and caring this much shouldn’t just begin when you start worrying because Aunt Flo is late. The pill is really, freakishly effective if used “normally.” “Normally” is a three-hour time frame. That is a lot of time. If you are really worried, do like I did. Set a phone alarm. Thirdly, use a back up method. Choose one. Fourthly, Plan B – if you are worried (say you took your pill late several days in a row) you can take a pill within 72 hours and it will have your back.
  2. “But, doesn’t it need to like air out?” No, it doesn’t. Your uterus isn’t laundry; it is a functioning organ. Pills, such as Seasonique, allow you skip 3 cycles and then have a period 4th, work on the two premises: 1. It is best to “air out” your uterus and 2. A lot of people are freaked out by not having a period ever. The lady I talked to told me that I could have a period about every 9-~12 months or so just to make sure that the lady business was functioning properly and to give myself reassurance that everything was okay. However, she said that the time could be extended or shortened to whatever I wanted it to be. I have found that my accidentally forgetting a pill and thus, accidentally summoning Aunt Flo is a more common occurrence for me than actually planning my periods out.

Well, this is what I know on the topic of skipping periods. I am not saying that this method is for everyone. However, I am saying is that if you find that your regularly scheduled workouts (or in some cases, life plans) impeded by your Shark Week, you might consider talking to your doctor. Your menstrual cycle should not impede your life and that includes your workouts.

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