Natural Family Planning International, Inc. (NFPI)
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The menstrual cycle

Question. I want to hike the Appalachian Trail for several months, and I don't want to be bothered with menstruation. I am not married and I am celibate, so I don't need to be concerned about the abortifacient potential of hormonal birth control. Is there a safe, healthy and moral way to stop menstruation?

Response. We would never recommend using hormonal birth control because of its potential danger to your health, even apart from the abortifacient potential. We would not recommend using any sort of hormonal suppression on the general moral principle that one should not suppress normal bodily functioning except for a sufficiently serious reason. Here one would have to apply correctly all the conditions of the principle of the double effect. When we shared this question with a group of NFP professionals, we received three very practical replies.

One wrote: "I had similar concerns when I went to West Africa at 19, and the worry was for nothing. In 6 months, I only bled once (likely due to the dramatic change in climate, diet, etc.) Dealing with it in a mud hut village with no sewer system wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. It was just important to use bio-degradable products and either bury them in a deep hole, or burn them." -S

Another experience: "The difficulty with bleeding on the trail is cleaning oneself as well as carrying supplies and disposing of them. When I was in college and working as an adventure camp counselor, I spent over two months in various primitive sites, including hiking some in the southern PA segment of the Appalachian Trail. To deal with this issue, we advised our long-term campers to remove most of the pubic hair to allow for easier cleaning. Also, I opted to use a Diva Cup, with a folded single ply gauze diaper for leakage protection. In this way, there was no disposable waste to contend with, and the supplies added only about 4 oz to the pack. The diaper, if soiled, is easy to rinse and dries quickly, and the Diva Cup is reusable. With these preparations, I found the whole thing to be an inconsequential concern. Of course, as S noted, the change in activity level and diet will likely impact her menses in such a way that she will have fewer cycles than normal." -H.

The last response reported an article about women in the military. When women in combat areas were put on hormonal birth control to stop menstruation, some experienced irregular bleeding especially in the early months. "My recommendation would be to learn her signs of fertility so that she can predict her menses - and plan for proper hygiene (such as was suggested in previous e-mails). And to enjoy nature and her true nature." -R. If a woman is going to insist on some hormonal way of stopping menstruation, she might want to check out with her doctor a bio-identical natural progesterone product that can suppress ovulation without having the blood clotting concerns of the Pill. It raises the moral problem cited earlier, but apparently it is the least harmful to her body of the hormonal options.

It's important to remember that low risk is not the same as no risk. What if you are the one who suffers a stroke while taking unnecessary hormonal medication? Who's going to care for you? Who's going to pay the medical bills? Do you have sufficient health insurance? There's also the increased risk of breast cancer years later. Researcher Dr. Chris Kahlenborn summarizes relevant data this way in Breast Cancer: Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill: "If a woman takes the oral contraceptive pill before her first full term pregnancy, she suffers a 40% increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to women do not take the OCP." Good health is a gift from God. Volunteer to work in a hospital or rehabilitation unit, and you will get a new appreciation for this great gift. Is it being grateful to God to run the risk of endangering his gift of good health by consuming, just for convenience or pleasure, drugs that are not necessary for a real medical condition?