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An End to Periods?

ecologists have been doing this for years,” she says, “using hormonal contraception for treating women with painful, heavy or irregular periods, or painful premenstrual symptoms.”

Menstrual suppression also has been used among women with endometriosis, a painful condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus; patients with disabilities who cannot maintain menstrual hygiene; and women athletes who have a difficult time with their period when competing in games and meets.

One downside experienced by some women is “breakthrough bleeding,” or the unplanned days of spotting or bleeding that can occur when they are not having monthly menses. Shedding menses three to four months after beginning menstrual suppression can help to stop or prevent breakthrough bleeding, Ernst says. “If you shed the lining of the uterus at an every three- to four-month interval, there tends to be less breakthrough bleeding than if you try to go completely menses-free for a year,” she says.

Ernst also notes that there are risks related to hormonal contraception, including blood clots, hypertension, stroke and heart attack, especially among women who smoke. Additionally, long-term use of progesterone injections can lead to a decrease in bone density, and even osteoporosis.

“A woman has to take those risks into account when thinking about using hormonal contraception for menstrual suppression,” Ernst says. Women should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctors before deciding to suppress their menstrual cycles, she says.

Facts about menstrual suppression
? One of the main benefits of menstrual suppression is the elimination or reduction of periods among women who experience painful periods due to endometriosis, heavy bleeding or cramping. Many women also say the ability to suppress their menstrual cycles adds a level of convenience to their lives.

? Critics cont
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