Some doctors are now advocating it

  • Dr. Sophia Yen has not had a period in 11 years. She promotes a movement called #PeriodsOptional.
  • Experts say placebo birth control pills aren’t necessary and people can safely skip periods.
  • They say skipping periods could have health benefits too.

At 43, I have 75% of my 2,300 days of menstruation behind me. By the time I got pregnant at 41, I’d only skipped three months since I started at 13. I grew up in a culture that firmly believed that having no period meant that there was something naturally wrong with you.

That’s not true, says Dr. Sophia Yen, Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University and CEO of Pandia Health, a birth control company.

“There are no toxins that you can get rid of by bleeding,” Yen, who hasn’t had a period in 11 years, told Insider. “This incessant bleeding is unnatural. It’s actually more natural to have fewer periods. “

Missing periods or amenorrhea doesn’t necessarily mean someone is pregnant – it can also indicate stress, lack of nutrients, too much exercise, or hormonal issues.

Amenorrhea can also be elective, and some doctors, like Yen, are keen to help people who want to suppress their periods, saying that missing their periods could reduce their risk of certain cancers and other physical and mental barriers. Critics say menstruation is natural and does not need to be “turned off” permanently.

Experts say manipulating cycles is becoming more common

Since the pill was approved in 1960, gynecologists have recommended period suppression to relieve certain conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids.

And manipulating cycles with the pill for specific events – a wedding, a sporting event, a beach vacation – has become more common, experts told Insider.

There are other reasons someone might want to skip a period.

“We see teenagers questioning their gender identity and some who don’t question but feel like they are in the wrong body and have their menstrual cycle causing dysphoria and suffering,” said Dr. Paula Hillard, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University. Menstrual suppression may be medically appropriate for them, she said.

You can stop your period with birth control

The reason people take placebos for a week while taking the pill is because Dr. John Rock, co-inventor of the pill, argued that a monthly period was the most natural, reported The New Yorker.

His proposed cycle of three weeks on the pill and one week off became the status quo when the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill in 1960.

Sixty years later, the Yen has made it its business to make it easier for people to suspend or lighten their periods and to promote #PeriodsOptional as a “movement”.

“You can take your period off two years after your first period. If you start earlier you could lose an inch or two in height, ”she told Insider.

Periods can be suppressed permanently or temporarily by skipping the placebo pills and continuing to take them

Birth control
Pills. Those who use methods like the ring or the band-aid can replace it at week four instead of giving it up.

Doctors say it is safe to not only minimize but erase periods, along with acne, mood swings, and painful cramps that they can cause. “If it is safe to use the pill – and it is – then it is safe to manipulate the cycle,” said Hillard.

Parents considering birth control for their teenagers often ask Hillard if periods can return after several months (or even years), and Hillard quickly calms them down. “There’s good evidence that the pill doesn’t cause infertility,” she said.

But these hormonal therapies don’t work perfectly to begin with – breakthrough bleeding can occur in the beginning. “There are no treatments that stop periods like turning off a tap,” said Hillard.

Skipping periods could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer

Turning off your period by continually using hormonal contraceptives could also reduce a person’s risk of anemia, endometriosis, and even certain types of cancer.

“We know the only way to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer is to stop the egg cells leaking every month for five years, and that will reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by 50%,” said Yen.

The thickening of the uterine lining can also have negative effects. “Prolonged thickening of the uterine lining increases the risk of endometrial cancer, and birth control pills prevent it and are therefore associated with a lower risk of this cancer,” said Hillard. Reducing the frequency with which the lining of the uterus thickens over the course of a person’s life can reduce the risk of developing endometrial cancer.

Some experts have security concerns. The Society of Menstrual Cycle Research, a volunteer organization of interdisciplinary researchers, has said that “menstruation is not a disease” and that “more research is needed into the potential health risks and long-term safety of cycle discontinuation contraceptives”.

Jessica Barnack-Tavlaris, a psychology professor at the College of New Jersey and outgoing SMCR secretary, said movements like #PeriodsOptional also added stigma to menstruation.

“We are socialized in a culture that stigmatizes menstruation and we are usually not taught to consider, think about, or report on positive aspects of it. We’re hyper-focused on the negative, ”Barnack-Tavlaris told Insider.

While missing a period can still be a sign of a significant health problem, according to Yen, it can also be a decision that frees a person from mental and physical obstacles.

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