If you talk to a bunch of women about whether they need to have a menstrual period, you are likely to get strong opinions from both ends of the spectrum.
The medical consensus is that women can take continuous hormones in the form of birth control pills, implanted hormones, rings, patches, injected hormones or from a hormonal IUD without suffering additional health risks other than those already associated with hormonal birth control methods.
According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, “there is no evidence that shows women need monthly withdrawal bleeding, and no health problems are linked to skipping or eliminating bleeding. Studies have found that using the pill continuously for two or more cycles before having withdrawal bleeding is as safe and effective at preventing pregnancy as a traditional regimen.”
The irony is that according to NPR, the seven dummy (non-hormone) pills that cause a withdrawal period were incorporated into BCP packets because it was thought that the Catholic Church might condone the use of BCPs if women had a monthly period.
The church never approved the use of the BCPs, but the dummy pills were never removed and for decades now, women have been taking BCPs in the same manner.
In 2007 the FDA approved Lybrel, a birth control pill to be taken 365 days a year. Lybrel is intended to completely eliminate monthly menstrual cycles, though some women still have some unscheduled bleeding or spotting during the first year.
Women in favor of getting rid of their menstrual periods include those who suffer from conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis and polycystic ovary disease, particularly if they are done with childbearing or they do not plan to have children at all.
In addition, there are times when excessive bleeding can be life-threatening if the woman has a bleeding condition or aplastic anemia.
1) Health Matters Fact Sheets. Understanding Menstrual Suppression. Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
2) Do Women Need Periods? National Public Radio.org. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
3) Paula Adams Hillard. Menstrual suppression: current perspectives. Int J Womens Health. 2014; 6: 631–637.Published online 2014 Jun 23. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S46680.
4) Women Don't Need to Have Periods. Atlantic.com. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
5) Women don't actually need to have their periods. Science Alert.org. Retrieved June 28, 2016.