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Maria Sykes
Maria Sykes
March 12, 2024 ·  5 min read

“We Don’t Need to Bleed” Why many women are giving up on periods

The average woman menstruates 456 times over about 40 years. That’s a lot of time (and money, and hot water bottles, and new pairs of underwear, and…)! (1) But if you had the option to quit your period altogether… would you?

The tampon industry has noticed a drop in sales in recent years. Some of that drop comes from the switch to waste-free period products like menstrual cups, but there’s also another trend happening: fewer women are having periods at all. (2)

Do I have to have my period?

Alyssa Dweck, an assistant clinical professor of OB/GYN at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York recently told The Atlantic:

“There is no medical reason why a woman has to menstruate every month, and there is nothing wrong with tweaking the system if bleeding is difficult for women.” (3)

In fact, UK organization, Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare ( FSRH) updated its guide for menstrual health earlier this year. “The updated FSRH guideline highlights that there is no health benefit from the seven-day hormone-free interval. Women can safely take fewer (or no) hormone-free intervals to avoid monthly bleeds, cramps and other symptoms” (4)

Carolyn Thompson, an OB/GYN and fellow at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told The Atlantic, “Women think it is unnatural to not have a period or think that something could be ‘building up’ inside the uterus if they don’t have a period.” (3)

In fact, there is no evidence to show that this is the case, she says. “There are some women whom we would prefer to avoid periods: those who have migraines, severe bleeding/cramping, endometriosis. There are also many women who just don’t want to have a period every month and who take the pill continuously. This carries no harm, either short- or long-term.”

So how are people opting out of their periods? Primarily, with certain methods of contraception:

  • Hormonal IUDs
  • Depo-Provera injections
  • Single-rod implants
  • Continuous use of NuvaRing
  • Continuous use of birth control pills
  • Extended cycle birth control pills like Seasonale

Read: How to avoid menopausal weight gain

Why are people quitting their periods?

If you’ve ever had a period, you probably don’t wonder why more people are opting out, given the choice.

But just in case, let’s review some of the reasons why stopping a period with contraceptives might be in someone’s best interest.

Anemia: Heavy periods can lead to a deficiency in healthy red blood cells. “I started taking the mini-pill purely for the fact it would stop my periods. For years, I had extremely heavy periods that would drag on for eight weeks or so and left me severely anemic to the point where I started experiencing pulsatile tinnitus. Not having periods any more is a blessing.” 25-year-old Jaimi Kendall of Exeter told The Guardian. (4)

PCOS: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can raise the risk of unhealthy cells building up in the uterine lining, but hormonal contraceptives that stop menstruation can prevent this by thinning that lining. (4)

Dysmenorrhea or Endometriosis: Those that suffer from endometriosis or very painful period cramps could find relief from debilitating pain by stopping their periods.

Mood Regulation: For some people, PMS is a minor inconvenience. For others, it can be a dire threat to their mental health. 27-year-old Cinzia DuBois of Edinburgh told The Guardian that having her period would subject her to dangerous spells of depression. But since starting continuous birth control pill doses, “I haven’t had a single suicidal episode and have found my spells of depression much less frequent than they were and not as extreme,” she says. (4)

Predictability: Irregular periods can be the result of conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis, or the result of perimenopause, fibroids, thyroid hormone imbalances, or weight fluctuations. (5) For some people, the unpredictability simply isn’t an option. 29-year-old Susan Shain told The Atlantic that she got an IUD because of her job as a travel writer. A busy travel schedule and constantly changing time zones interrupted her menstrual cycle and made it difficult to use birth control pills reliably. Now, she doesn’t miss battling her period while on the job. (3)

Read: Woman didn’t realize she was pregnant until the moment she gave birth

What are the side effects of those birth control options?

If quitting your period seems a little too good to be true, you might be right. While not having a period in and of itself doesn’t pose any health threats, the methods used to stop menstruating could have massive effects on your wellbeing.

Estrogen-based hormonal contraceptives can raise the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. (6) Most hormonal contraception comes with a laundry list of side effects ranging from breast pain and weight gain to severe headaches, diarrhea, hair loss, and fainting.

See for Yourself:

All of these side effects and contraindications make up a core reason more women have been demanding better contraception options for men, too.

So, is skipping my period safe?

The bottom line is that bodies, priorities, and preferences are all unique to everyone.

What might make sense for a 35-year-old woman suffering from endometriosis might not work for an 18-year-old with a mental illness. What worked for you a few years ago might not be the best choice for you today.

Speak with your medical care provider to see whether the pros of stopping your period outweigh the cons, and to find the safest method for you. And as always, you can discuss with them any period symptoms that concern you, and find solutions that fit your needs.

Read next: What is life like for mothers in the NICU?

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.