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
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.
Happy #WorldEmojiDay, dance friends! 🎉 👯 🎉 👯
Because it's just the cutest, we thought we'd share the emoji challenge the Royal Opera House is currently hosting on Twitter. They've retold a series of ballets (and operas, for that crowd) in emoji form. If you correctly guess the name of a ballet, you'll be entered for a chance to win two tickets to a ROH production.