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Nationwide survey finds idea of not having periods popular, but more research, education needed

For Immediate Release
November 17,  2003

Contact: Natalia Barolin
Phone: (202) 466-3825

WASHINGTON, DC - A new nationwide survey sponsored by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) exposes what women and health care providers really think of monthly periods and menstrual suppression. The ARHP study shows the concept of menstrual suppression-extending, skipping, or eliminating the monthly period-is favorable among women and health care providers, but also reveals many clear differences between the groups. Most surprising was that most women (73%) have never heard of using birth control pills to skip a period despite the fact that 8 out of 10 clinicians-which were 90% female-have heard of it, and 7 out of 10 clinicians have prescribed contraception to suppress menstruation. Women and health care providers also disagree on the necessity of having a period every month. 50% of women and only 7% of health care providers think a menstrual period is necessary every month.

"There appears to be a disconnect between what health care providers know and do about menstrual suppression, and the general public," says Linda Andrist, PhD, RNC, lead author of the study. "Women and health care providers in this study thought that menstruation is a natural event and should not be treated like a disease; however, having the choice of not menstruating every month appears to be an intriguing option for women."

Women and clinicians do agree on the need for more research on menstrual suppression. Almost 80% of women and over 85% of health care providers think more research should be done on this topic, which corresponds with their greatest concerns about menstrual suppression; 90% of clinicians and 89% of women reported that long-term health effects have the greatest influence on prescribing or taking oral contraceptives for menstrual suppression.

Survey Design
ARHP's Menstrual Suppression Study evaluated women's and health care providers' attitudes toward menstrual suppression with extended use oral contraceptives through qualitative and quantitative surveys. The survey was conducted in three parts: 1) written survey of women (1,500), 2) clinician interviews of women (18), and 3) written survey of health care providers (500). The women surveyed were English-speaking, between the ages of 18 and 40; had a uterus and ovaries; had menstruated for at least one year since menarche; and neither were pregnant and nor attempting pregnancy.

This study was made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Barr Laboratories.


The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) is the leading source for trusted medical education and information on reproductive and sexual health. ARHP educates health care providers, informs consumers, and helps shape public policy. ARHP is a non-profit membership association composed of highly qualified and committed experts in reproductive health. ARHP members are health professionals in clinical practice, education, research, and advocacy and they include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, researchers, educators, pharmacists, and other professionals in reproductive health. To learn more, visit: