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SURVEY REVEALS “AUNT FLO” IS NOT ALWAYS A WELCOME VISITOR AND CONFUSION ABOUT MENSTRUATION ABOUNDS



Association of Reproductive Health Professionals launches new online resources and tools to help women understand their cycles and explore their available contraceptive options.

For Immediate Release
March 2,  2006

Contact:
Ann McCall
(202) 466-3825
communications@arhp.org

Washington, DC, March 2, 2006 –The results of a national Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) survey suggest that women have a love/hate relationship with their period. The survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner of more than 1,000 women ages 18-40, reveals that the majority of women do not enjoy their periods (72 percent) but just as many (71 percent) hold a more positive belief that their period is an obvious example of the cycles of life.

The survey reveals that women experience contradictory feelings about the necessity of the period and the impact it can have on their lives. For example:

  • Fully 50 percent of women feel that the monthly flow of menstruation shows they are in good health, but 38 percent of women feel that menstrual blood is “disgusting.”
  • While 48 percent of the respondents feel that their period is a reminder of their womanhood, 58 percent would not miss their periods if they disappeared.
  • As many as 40 percent would prefer not to have their periods at all.

The survey also reveals that many women show surprisingly little knowledge about how their menstrual cycle works. “We were surprised to learn that 67 percent of the women surveyed believe it is natural to have a period while on the birth control pill,” said Beth Jordan, MD, ARHP medical director. “In fact, monthly bleeding that occurs during the seven-day break from the pill is not menstrual bleeding at all, but a symptom of the short-term hormone deprivation known as withdrawal bleeding.”

“This survey clearly demonstrates that women need more information to be able to understand their menstrual cycles, especially what effect hormonal contraceptives have on their periods,” said Dr. Jordan. “ARHP is dedicated to improving reproductive health by educating women about their bodies, as well as their contraceptive options. It is important that women are more fully informed about their menstrual cycles.”

Women today experience vastly different reproductive lives compared to women centuries, or in some instances, just decades ago. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had far fewer periods than the modern women, as they started menstruating later, began childbearing earlier in life, had more pregnancies, and breastfed for a longer duration of time (decreasing fertility). In contrast, women today start menstruating earlier, begin childbearing later in life, have fewer pregnancies, and breastfeed for a shorter duration of time. As a result, women today experience three times as many periods during their lifetimes as their hunter-gatherer ancestors (an estimated 450 periods today compared to an historical average of 150).

In an effort to provide education on this issue, ARHP has launched new online resources intended to help women learn about their menstrual cycle and the effects of hormonal contraception on it, walking Web site tool visitors through everything from how their menstrual cycle works to how hormonal contraception effects their cycle. The new menstruation resource center, including facts and myths about menstruation and a dynamic interactive tool that explores and explains menstruation and menstrual suppression are available at: www.arhp.org/topics/menstruation. The Web site also features the entire findings from the ARHP survey: Menstruation and Menstrual Suppression Survey.

“I look forward to sharing these online resources with women,” said Susan Wysocki, RNC NP, FAANP, president and CEO of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH). “These tools will help women better understand their menstrual cycles. They will also help women understand more about how hormonal contraceptives work.”

About Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner is a global leader in public opinion research and strategic consulting, working with non-profits, corporations, issue groups, and political campaigns throughout the United States and around the world. To learn more, visit: www.gqrr.com.



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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: http://www.arhp.org.