You may be wondering “why on earth would anyone want to have a period?” and it’s an understandable question, but a complicated one. Whether you’re on the side of wanting to banish them forever, or believe they are useful for keeping tabs on your general and reproductive health, let’s take a look at the safety of messing with your menstruation, the benefits and risks, and why it might be the right or wrong choice for you...
It’s actually way less complicated to stop periods than you might think. If you are taking the combined pill, estrogen causes the lining of the uterus to thicken, and progesterone thins it. If you skip the break in your pack, progesterone levels stay constant, so your uterine lining remains thin. This means there is no lining to shed from the uterus. And voila, no period!
This has always been the big question, and unfortunately, there still isn’t enough research into the risks of long-term suppression of periods. The National Women’s Health Network states there is no evidence that using birth control to skip periods is harmful, but it is believed there could be possible side effects when doing this over many years.
For example, the National Cancer Institute says there is mixed evidence that hormonal birth control could increase risk of breast and cervical cancer. To confuse things even more, they also suggest that it could reduce risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers. Minefield, right?!
Ultimately it seems more research is needed on the safety of long-term birth control use for period suppression. If you plan to do it, we recommend proceeding with caution and discussing it with your GP to ensure your personal health history is taken into consideration.
Oh yes, many benefits. Delaying or stopping your period has many an upside, including:
As previously mentioned, not enough research exists yet on the risks, but some possible risks include:
Let’s not beat around the bush - periods can be a pain in the neck (and everywhere else) to say the least. We’ve all felt the disappointment of getting your period when you’ve just put on that brand new bikini on holiday. This alone would be grounds to want to stop menstruation in its tracks, but some people have more pressing reasons for wanting to get rid of them for good. For example, those who suffer from painful or difficult periods every month, or whose gender identity makes menstruation a source of stress, anxiety and dysphoria.
Then there’s the argument for removing the stigma and shame associated with periods. In many cases, stopping periods is seen as an unfair necessity in order to avoid the supposed ‘embarrassment’ of having a period. It may further stigmatise and suppress talk of normalising menstruation, and could even be seen as a way for pharmaceutical companies to profit from our bodies.
At its core, the question is; does stopping periods empower us to choose when we bleed? Or does it keep us bound to the historical view that periods are something to be ‘fixed’?
Ultimately, this question will have different answers to different people, depending on your personal relationship with your period, your health journey, your gender identity and more. And that’s absolutely OK. The benefits are clear, but perhaps we should now be striving for further research on the risks to make the option of stopping periods as safe as possible.
There is no guaranteed safe way to stop your monthly bleed, but if you’re going to do it, best do it right! Here’s where to start:
Have you tried delaying your period? Or stopping it altogether? If you have questions or would like to share your own experience of skipping periods, we’d love to know more! Join the conversation in our Full Stop FB group, or get in touch on our Instagram at @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised menstrual cycle care box covers everything from organic tampons to hydrating face masks (and plenty more!) delivered regularly through your letterbox - so whether you opt to keep rocking the bleed or not, we're here to make life easier for you every month.
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