The Truth About The Pill
Although not all bodies react to the pill in the same way, lots of girls worry about taking birth control because of its potential side effects. So what’s the truth behind the fiction? What is it really? What will it do to your body? What kind is the best for you? Here, DS breaks down the facts about birth control.
Why would a girl who is not sexually active go on birth control?
There are many reasons a young dancer may want to go on birth control. It can correct heavy or irregular menstrual cycles, treat painful periods and get rid of acne. The cause of these problems is the imbalance of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Birth control balances these hormones, which alleviates discomforts.
- Irregular periods:
Birth control is also commonly prescribed to treat irregular or infrequent periods, a condition dancers are especially susceptible to due to their high activity level. Dale Perry, a certified nurse practitioner at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills, points out that studies have shown women with irregular periods to have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, as well as other health risks. “Since we don’t know how to diagnose ovarian cancer yet, it’s a good thing to avoid with birth control,” she says.
However, Linda Hamilton, Ph.D., a performance psychologist who works with the New York City Ballet, feels dancers should only use birth control in extreme cases of fluctuating periods. “I actually don’t like having dancers on the pill if there’s a possibility of an eating disorder, since it masks one of the main symptoms of anorexia: not menstruating.”
- Painful periods:
“The majority of the prescriptions [for birth control pills] I write are for dysmenorrheal, or painful periods,” says Perry.
Hamilton says she’s seen dancers doubled over in pain from heavy periods. “I always recommend they see a specialist to see what their options are, including birth control, to regulate the problem.”
In cases of stubborn acne, specialists may suggest birth control because the additional dosage of estrogen decreases production of testosterone (a pore-clogging hormone), leaving skin clearer. However, birth control should only be prescribed if other treatments prove unsuccessful. Hamilton says that, if acne is the only concern, “girls should really try other methods—like the blue-light treatment, which also gets acne under control—before turning to birth control.”
How will birth control affect my body?
The relationship between a dancer and her body is one of great intimacy. Even the slightest changes are easily noticed, giving dancers a leg up when it comes to detecting the effects of birth control.
“A lot of dancers are worried about bloating and weight gain,” says Michelle Warren, Ph.D., an endocrinologist at Columbia University Medical Center. But weight gain from birth control is actually a myth. “There may be some adjustment in the first couple of weeks, so people feel bloated or like they’ve gained weight,” says Warren, “but it’s only water retention.” A prescription with lower hormone dosages can help eliminate such effects. Lily Rogers, a dancer with San Francisco Ballet, says she wanted to try a birth control pill with a low dose for that reason. Now, six months later, she says her period has gotten lighter. “I haven’t found there to be any bad side effects,” she says.
How do I talk to a medical professional about birth control?
Talk to your parents and let them know your concerns. Then visit your gynecologist.
It’s crucial to share your medical history with your doctor, and it’s important to get to know your body before making a commitment to medication. Perry prefers that girls have had their period for about a year before treating discomfort with birth control. “Unless there are specific issues, we don’t usually do anything while the body is figuring out its normal pattern,” she says. “But lives can be dramatically changed by birth control because girls don’t dread their periods.”
Don’t worry if your first prescription doesn’t work out perfectly. Different bodies react differently to certain types of birth control and higher or lower dosages of hormones. Just like pointe shoes, you have to try a variety before finding that perfect fit.
When is it time to go off my birth control?
Responses to birth control vary. What works for one person may be an unpleasant experience for another. Birth control is meant to help you, so if the cons are outweighing the pros, reevaluate your treatment with your doctor. Michelle Warren, Ph.D., says, “What a doctor does, and what a patient can help a doctor do, is look at the list of complaints and list of benefits about the birth control and see if it’s worth it. If it’s not, you can look into another option or decide to stop the one you’re on.”
Types of birth control
Mary Wilson, Ph.D., a gynecologist with Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, says that, while the pill is the most popular form of birth control, some people have trouble remembering it every day. Here are the other options (which have side effects of their own, so be sure to talk to your doctor before starting one):
- hormone shots received every twelve weeks
- the patch, worn everyday for three weeks, with one week off in between
- the vaginal ring, inserted monthly
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.
Marzia Memoli may be the Martha Graham Dance Company's newest dancer, but her classical lines and easy grace are already turning heads. Originally from Palermo, Italy, Memoli started studying at age 16 at the Academy of Teatro Carcano in Milan. Later, she attended the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne, Switzerland, before heading to NYC in 2016 to join MGDC. This month, she'll perform The Rite of Spring in the Martha Graham Studio Series in NYC, and tour with the company in Florida. Read on for the dirt.