Updated: Friday, 07 May 2010, 8:26 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 07 May 2010, 8:26 AM MDT
(CNN) – Fifty years ago, women obtained a new level of control over their reproductive systems. The introduction of the birth control pill meant they could have sex without getting pregnant, decide how far apart to have their children and they could even decide when, or whether, to have a monthly period.
Women typically received 21 days of active pills, which contain hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs.
That was followed by seven days of placebos, during which the body resumes as if having a regular menstrual cycle. Today, 19 percent of women between ages 15 and 44 are using that form of contraception according to the CDC, and their attitudes about what the pill can do for them continue to shift.
Ashley Schwartau says she has always found her periods to be uncomfortable, unpredictable and even “gross.” So when her gynecologist told her it was OK to skip the placebo week on her monthly birth control pill and go straight to the next round of hormones, the 25-year-old Tennessean immediately said, “Yes, sign me up!”
For the past six years Schwartau has been limiting her cycle to a handful of times each year.
“I love choosing when I have a period. It’s genius,” she says.
Not every woman is quite as enthused.