Depo: Suppressing Menstruation at What Cost to Women?

Holy Hormones Journal: My colleague Holly Grigg-Spall raises excellent issues on our concerns about Depo use in developing world countries and on unsuspecting women. Depo Provera is causing so many physical and mental/emotional issues in women in the U.S. – how are the women in India and Africa going to handle this drug?

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The Depo Vaccine

In my informative interview with Dr. Brian Hooker, PhD  on vaccines and autism (“Welcome to Autism America“) – he related information on a 2002 study that the CDC was aware of in the increase in autism rates in African American men.  And that autism rates in this subset were much higher than Caucasian men. He linked Vitamin D deficiency (the sunlight hormone) not reaching through the skin of dark peoples making them more prone to a more compromised immune system to begin with – and a great inability to fend off the toxins in the vaccine. Dr. Hooker cautioned against a one-vaccine-fits-all-policy. Even from a common sense point of view this makes sense….. and applies to all drugs. We are biochemically and genetically different. Drugs that affect one person may not affect others at all. How can they be deemed safe for everyone?   Since more and more of us are beginning to realize that the Depo ‘injection’ is none other than the birth control vaccine the Gates Foundation has touted for years, one must question whether they rush to curb the global population is worth afflicting harm on innocent women’s lives? Not only are women from India and Africa reaching out for help – so are there practitioners. The have concerns that women are not getting their periods coming off of Depo.  What affect is this vaccine going to have on the next generation of children born in the developing world countries? Is a vitamin D deficiency going to come into play here? probably. Coupled with the fact that more and more indigenous women spend time inside and less time in the sunshine. Birth control is different than sterilization.

Depo Provera Menstrual Management

Society for Menstrual Cycle Research by Holly Grigg-Spall April 8, 2014

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Melinda Gates speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning; Photograph courtesy Wikimedia Common

A few weeks back I did an interview with Leslie Botha regarding the distribution of Depo Provera to women in developing countries. Recently Leslie shared with me an email she received from someone working in a family planning clinic in Karnataka, India. He described how he was providing the Depo Provera injection to women and finding that, after they stopped using it, they were not experiencing menstruation for up to nine months. He asked for advice – “what is the procedure to give them normal monthly menses….is there any medicine?” I have written previously about one potential problem of providing women with Depo Provera – the possibility of continuous spotting and bleeding that would not only be distressing with no warning that this might happen and no medical support, but could also be difficult to navigate in a place with poor sanitation or with strong menstrual taboos. As women in developed countries are so very rarely counseled on side effects of hormonal methods of contraception, it seems unlikely women in developing countries receive such information. As we know, some women will instead experience their periods stopping entirely during use of the shot and, as we see from this email and from the comments on other posts written for this blog, long after use. In this context I find it interesting that the Gates Foundation’s programs for contraception access have a very public focus on Depo Provera. The method was mentioned again by Melinda Gates in a recent TED interview and when she was interviewed as ‘Glamor magazine Woman of the Year’ the shot was front-and-center of the discussion of her work. Yet the Foundation also funds programs that provide support for menstrual management and sanitation.  Continuous bleeding from the shot, or cessation of bleeding altogether, would seem to be an important connecting factor between these two campaigns. Much has been written on the menstrual taboo in India and how this holds women back. In the US we have come to embrace menstrual suppression as great for our health and our progress as women. We see menstruation as holding women back in a variety of ways. However, in India could lack of menstruation also be seen as a positive outcome? Instead of dealing with the menstrual taboo with expensive programs that provide sanitary products and education, might suppressing menstruation entirely be seen as a far more cost-effective solution? It may seem like a stretch, but I am surprised this has not been brought up during debates about the need for contraceptive access in developing countries. Yet of course, the menstrual taboo may well extend to absence of menstruation – a woman who does not experience her period might also be treated suspiciously or poorly. Read full article…

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.